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Shareholders Should Look Hard At Bassett Furniture Industries, Incorporated’s (NASDAQ:BSET) 4.3% Return On Capital

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Bassett Furniture Industries, Incorporated (NASDAQ:BSET) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

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 Bassett Furniture Industries:

0.043 = US$9.1m ÷ (US$281m - US$67m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Bassett Furniture Industries has an ROCE of 4.3%.

See our latest analysis for Bassett Furniture Industries

Is Bassett Furniture Industries's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Bassett Furniture Industries's ROCE is meaningfully below the Consumer Durables industry average of 12%. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Putting aside Bassett Furniture Industries's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor - considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

Bassett Furniture Industries's current ROCE of 4.3% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 14%, 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. The image below shows how Bassett Furniture Industries's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NasdaqGS:BSET Past Revenue and Net Income, August 20th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Bassett Furniture Industries.

Do Bassett Furniture Industries'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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Bassett Furniture Industries has total assets of US$281m and current liabilities of US$67m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 24% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

The Bottom Line On Bassett Furniture Industries's ROCE

That's not a bad thing, however Bassett Furniture Industries has a weak ROCE and may not be an attractive investment. 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).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.