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Is TriMas Corporation’s (NASDAQ:TRS) Return On Capital Employed Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at TriMas Corporation (NASDAQ:TRS) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the 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.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its 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 TriMas:

0.13 = US$130m ÷ (US$1.2b - US$136m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, TriMas has an ROCE of 13%.

See our latest analysis for TriMas

Is TriMas's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. It appears that TriMas's ROCE is fairly close to the Machinery industry average of 12%. Regardless of where TriMas sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

We can see that , TriMas currently has an ROCE of 13% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 6.4%. This makes us think the business might be improving. The image below shows how TriMas's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NasdaqGS:TRS Past Revenue and Net Income, September 17th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 TriMas.

TriMas's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

TriMas has total liabilities of US$136m and total assets of US$1.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 12% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On TriMas's ROCE

Overall, TriMas has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. There might be better investments than TriMas out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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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.