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Is Steelcase Inc. (NYSE:SCS) Creating Value For Shareholders?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Steelcase Inc. (NYSE:SCS) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’

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 Steelcase:

0.13 = US$172m ÷ (US$2.0b – US$637m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to November 2018.)

Therefore, Steelcase has an ROCE of 13%.

See our latest analysis for Steelcase

Does Steelcase Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Steelcase’s ROCE is around the 11% average reported by the Commercial Services industry. Independently of how Steelcase compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

NYSE:SCS Past Revenue and Net Income, March 16th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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 Steelcase.

How Steelcase’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Steelcase has total assets of US$2.0b and current liabilities of US$637m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 32% of its total assets. Steelcase has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost the ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Steelcase’s ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it’s worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. But note: Steelcase may not be the best stock to buy. 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.