Today we’ll look at Select Medical Holdings Corporation (NYSE:SEM) 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.
Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.
What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?
ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?
The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)
Or for Select Medical Holdings:
0.078 = US$359m ÷ (US$6.0b – US$685m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)
Therefore, Select Medical Holdings has an ROCE of 7.8%.
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Is Select Medical Holdings’s ROCE Good?
ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Select Medical Holdings’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 13% average in the Healthcare industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Select Medical Holdings’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.
When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Select Medical Holdings.
What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Select Medical Holdings’s ROCE?
Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.
Select Medical Holdings has total liabilities of US$685m and total assets of US$6.0b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 11% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.
Our Take On Select Medical Holdings’s ROCE
If Select Medical Holdings continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.
I will like Select Medical Holdings better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.
The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.