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How Do Superior Group of Companies, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:SGC) Returns Compare To Its Industry?

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Today we'll evaluate Superior Group of Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ:SGC) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 Superior Group of Companies:

0.092 = US$26m ÷ (US$340m - US$57m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Superior Group of Companies has an ROCE of 9.2%.

See our latest analysis for Superior Group of Companies

Does Superior Group of Companies Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In this analysis, Superior Group of Companies's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 14% average reported by the Luxury industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Superior Group of Companies's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

Superior Group of Companies's current ROCE of 9.2% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 13% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NasdaqGM:SGC Past Revenue and Net Income, May 8th 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 only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Superior Group of Companies's Current Liabilities Skew 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. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Superior Group of Companies has total assets of US$340m and current liabilities of US$57m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 17% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

What We Can Learn From Superior Group of Companies's ROCE

With that in mind, we're not overly impressed with Superior Group of Companies's ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. 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.