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Should Seacor Holdings Inc.’s (NYSE:CKH) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Seacor Holdings Inc. (NYSE:CKH) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.'

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

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

Or for Seacor Holdings:

0.055 = US$76m ÷ (US$1.6b - US$214m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Seacor Holdings has an ROCE of 5.5%.

View our latest analysis for Seacor Holdings

Does Seacor Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Seacor Holdings's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 7.3% average in the Energy Services industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Independently of how Seacor Holdings compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.7% available in government bonds. It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

We can see that , Seacor Holdings currently has an ROCE of 5.5% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 1.1%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Seacor Holdings's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:CKH Past Revenue and Net Income, August 19th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. We note Seacor Holdings could be considered a cyclical business. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Seacor Holdings.

Do Seacor Holdings's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Seacor Holdings has total assets of US$1.6b and current liabilities of US$214m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 13% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

What We Can Learn From Seacor Holdings's ROCE

Seacor Holdings has a poor ROCE, and there may be better investment prospects out there. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.