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What We Think Of Korn Ferry’s (NYSE:KFY) Investment Potential

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

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.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Korn Ferry:

0.12 = US$248m ÷ (US$2.4b - US$412m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2019.)

So, Korn Ferry has an ROCE of 12%.

View our latest analysis for Korn Ferry

Is Korn Ferry's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Korn Ferry's ROCE is fairly close to the Professional Services industry average of 12%. Independently of how Korn Ferry compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

We can see that , Korn Ferry currently has an ROCE of 12% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 8.1%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Korn Ferry's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:KFY Past Revenue and Net Income, September 18th 2019
NYSE:KFY Past Revenue and Net Income, September 18th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 Korn Ferry.

How Korn Ferry's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Korn Ferry has total liabilities of US$412m and total assets of US$2.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 17% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Korn Ferry's ROCE

With that in mind, Korn Ferry's ROCE appears pretty good. Korn Ferry 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.

I will like Korn Ferry better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.