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Why We Like Hubbell Incorporated’s (NYSE:HUBB) 14% Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Hubbell Incorporated (NYSE:HUBB) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. 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. 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?

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 Hubbell:

0.14 = US$588m ÷ (US$5.0b - US$874m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Hubbell has an ROCE of 14%.

Check out our latest analysis for Hubbell

Does Hubbell Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, we find that Hubbell's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 11% average in the Electrical 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. Independently of how Hubbell compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

The image below shows how Hubbell's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:HUBB Past Revenue and Net Income, August 10th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 Hubbell.

How Hubbell's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

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

Hubbell has total liabilities of US$874m and total assets of US$5.0b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 17% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Hubbell's ROCE

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