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What We Think Of Pentair plc’s (NYSE:PNR) Investment Potential

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Pentair plc (NYSE:PNR) 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.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Pentair:

0.13 = US$453m ÷ (US$4.1b - US$694m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Pentair has an ROCE of 13%.

View our latest analysis for Pentair

Does Pentair Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Pentair's ROCE is around the 11% average reported by the Machinery industry. Independently of how Pentair compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

Our data shows that Pentair currently has an ROCE of 13%, compared to its ROCE of 7.6% 3 years ago. This makes us think the business might be improving. You can see in the image below how Pentair's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:PNR Past Revenue and Net Income, November 24th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Pentair's 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Pentair has total assets of US$4.1b and current liabilities of US$694m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 17% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Pentair's ROCE

With that in mind, Pentair's ROCE appears pretty good. Pentair looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.