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Verisk Analytics, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSK) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Verisk Analytics, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSK) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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.'

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 Verisk Analytics:

0.16 = US$870m ÷ (US$6.2b - US$921m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Verisk Analytics has an ROCE of 16%.

View our latest analysis for Verisk Analytics

Does Verisk Analytics Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Verisk Analytics's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 12% average in the Professional Services industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how Verisk Analytics compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

You can see in the image below how Verisk Analytics's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqGS:VRSK Past Revenue and Net Income, September 16th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Verisk Analytics.

Do Verisk Analytics'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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Verisk Analytics has total assets of US$6.2b and current liabilities of US$921m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 15% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Verisk Analytics's ROCE

Overall, Verisk Analytics has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. There might be better investments than Verisk Analytics 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.

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.