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WD-40 Company (NASDAQ:WDFC) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at WD-40 Company (NASDAQ:WDFC) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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.'

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 WD-40:

0.34 = US$78m ÷ (US$313m - US$85m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to May 2019.)

Therefore, WD-40 has an ROCE of 34%.

See our latest analysis for WD-40

Does WD-40 Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, WD-40's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 13% average in the Household Products industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, WD-40's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

Our data shows that WD-40 currently has an ROCE of 34%, compared to its ROCE of 24% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can see in the image below how WD-40's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqGS:WDFC Past Revenue and Net Income, August 27th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for WD-40.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect WD-40's ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that 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.

WD-40 has total liabilities of US$85m and total assets of US$313m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 27% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

The Bottom Line On WD-40's ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, WD-40 may be worth a closer look. WD-40 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 are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.