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The Returns On Capital At Robert Half International (NYSE:RHI) Don't Inspire Confidence

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Simply Wall St
·3 min read
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If we want to find a stock that could multiply over the long term, what are the underlying trends we should look for? Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing base of capital employed. This shows us that it's a compounding machine, able to continually reinvest its earnings back into the business and generate higher returns. Having said that, while the ROCE is currently high for Robert Half International (NYSE:RHI), we aren't jumping out of our chairs because returns are decreasing.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

Just to clarify if you're unsure, ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Robert Half International:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

0.23 = US$345m ÷ (US$2.6b - US$1.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).

Thus, Robert Half International has an ROCE of 23%. In absolute terms that's a great return and it's even better than the Professional Services industry average of 10%.

Check out our latest analysis for Robert Half International

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Robert Half International compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

In terms of Robert Half International's historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. While it's comforting that the ROCE is high, five years ago it was 57%. Given the business is employing more capital while revenue has slipped, this is a bit concerning. This could mean that the business is losing its competitive advantage or market share, because while more money is being put into ventures, it's actually producing a lower return - "less bang for their buck" per se.

Another thing to note, Robert Half International has a high ratio of current liabilities to total assets of 41%. This can bring about some risks because the company is basically operating with a rather large reliance on its suppliers or other sorts of short-term creditors. While it's not necessarily a bad thing, it can be beneficial if this ratio is lower.

What We Can Learn From Robert Half International's ROCE

From the above analysis, we find it rather worrisome that returns on capital and sales for Robert Half International have fallen, meanwhile the business is employing more capital than it was five years ago. However the stock has delivered a 92% return to shareholders over the last five years, so investors might be expecting the trends to turn around. Regardless, we don't feel too comfortable with the fundamentals so we'd be steering clear of this stock for now.

On a separate note, we've found 1 warning sign for Robert Half International you'll probably want to know about.

High returns are a key ingredient to strong performance, so check out our free list ofstocks earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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