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Should Taylor Devices, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:TAYD) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Taylor Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:TAYD) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we 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.

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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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 Taylor Devices:

0.083 = US$3.0m ÷ (US$41m - US$4.9m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to May 2019.)

So, Taylor Devices has an ROCE of 8.3%.

View our latest analysis for Taylor Devices

Does Taylor Devices Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In this analysis, Taylor Devices's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 12% average reported by the Machinery industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Separate from how Taylor Devices stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

Taylor Devices's current ROCE of 8.3% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 19%, 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. You can see in the image below how Taylor Devices's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqCM:TAYD Past Revenue and Net Income, September 23rd 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. You can check if Taylor Devices has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Do Taylor Devices's Current Liabilities Skew Its 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 the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Taylor Devices has total assets of US$41m and current liabilities of US$4.9m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

Our Take On Taylor Devices's ROCE

If Taylor Devices 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.

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.