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Why You Should Care About Sykes Enterprises, Incorporated’s (NASDAQ:SYKE) Low Return On Capital

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Simply Wall St
·4 min read
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Today we'll evaluate Sykes Enterprises, Incorporated (NASDAQ:SYKE) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

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 Sykes Enterprises:

0.08 = US$93m ÷ (US$1.4b - US$254m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

So, Sykes Enterprises has an ROCE of 8.0%.

View our latest analysis for Sykes Enterprises

Does Sykes Enterprises Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Sykes Enterprises's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 11% average reported by the IT industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Sykes Enterprises's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Sykes Enterprises's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:SYKE Past Revenue and Net Income April 29th 2020
NasdaqGS:SYKE Past Revenue and Net Income April 29th 2020

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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Sykes Enterprises.

How Sykes Enterprises's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Sykes Enterprises has total assets of US$1.4b and current liabilities of US$254m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 18% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

What We Can Learn From Sykes Enterprises's ROCE

If Sykes Enterprises continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

I will like Sykes Enterprises better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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.