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Are UFP Technologies, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:UFPT) Returns On Investment Worth Your While?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at UFP Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:UFPT) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

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. 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?

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 UFP Technologies:

0.12 = US$21m ÷ (US$190m - US$21m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, UFP Technologies has an ROCE of 12%.

View our latest analysis for UFP Technologies

Is UFP Technologies's ROCE Good?

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

NasdaqCM:UFPT Past Revenue and Net Income, April 16th 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 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 UFP Technologies.

UFP Technologies'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 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

UFP Technologies has total liabilities of US$21m and total assets of US$190m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 11% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From UFP Technologies's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, UFP Technologies could be worth a closer look. UFP Technologies 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.

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

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.