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Is Smith Micro Software, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:SMSI) Return On Capital Employed Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Smith Micro Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:SMSI) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

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

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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'.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Smith Micro Software:

0.11 = US$4.0m ÷ (US$41m - US$4.9m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Smith Micro Software has an ROCE of 11%.

View our latest analysis for Smith Micro Software

Is Smith Micro Software's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Smith Micro Software's ROCE is fairly close to the Software industry average of 9.4%. Separate from Smith Micro Software's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Smith Micro Software delivered an ROCE of 11%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Smith Micro Software's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqCM:SMSI Past Revenue and Net Income, August 13th 2019

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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Smith Micro Software.

Smith Micro Software's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Smith Micro Software has total liabilities of US$4.9m and total assets of US$41m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 12% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Smith Micro Software's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Smith Micro Software could be worth a closer look. Smith Micro Software shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.