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Why You Should Like Generac Holdings Inc.’s (NYSE:GNRC) ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Generac Holdings Inc. (NYSE:GNRC) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

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 Generac Holdings:

0.17 = US$372m ÷ (US$2.7b - US$497m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

So, Generac Holdings has an ROCE of 17%.

Check out our latest analysis for Generac Holdings

Is Generac Holdings's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Generac Holdings's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.9% average in the Electrical industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how Generac Holdings 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 Generac Holdings's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:GNRC Past Revenue and Net Income, March 22nd 2020

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Generac Holdings's 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.

Generac Holdings has total assets of US$2.7b and current liabilities of US$497m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 19% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Generac Holdings's ROCE

With that in mind, Generac Holdings's ROCE appears pretty good. There might be better investments than Generac Holdings 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.

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

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.