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Why Cooper-Standard Holdings Inc.’s (NYSE:CPS) Return On Capital Employed Might Be A Concern

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Cooper-Standard Holdings Inc. (NYSE:CPS) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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 Cooper-Standard Holdings:

0.086 = US$162m ÷ (US$2.8b - US$940m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Cooper-Standard Holdings has an ROCE of 8.6%.

See our latest analysis for Cooper-Standard Holdings

Is Cooper-Standard Holdings's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Cooper-Standard Holdings's ROCE is meaningfully below the Auto Components industry average of 16%. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Cooper-Standard Holdings's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

We can see that , Cooper-Standard Holdings currently has an ROCE of 8.6%, less than the 16% it reported 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. The image below shows how Cooper-Standard Holdings's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:CPS Past Revenue and Net Income, July 25th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Cooper-Standard Holdings's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Cooper-Standard Holdings has total liabilities of US$940m and total assets of US$2.8b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 33% of its total assets. Cooper-Standard Holdings's ROCE is improved somewhat by its moderate amount of current liabilities.

What We Can Learn From Cooper-Standard Holdings's ROCE

Despite this, its ROCE is still mediocre, and you may find more appealing investments elsewhere. You might be able to find a better investment than Cooper-Standard Holdings. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

I will like Cooper-Standard Holdings better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.