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Why Lakeland Industries, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:LAKE) Use Of Investor Capital Doesn’t Look Great

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Lakeland Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:LAKE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Lakeland Industries:

0.059 = US$5.0m ÷ (US$95m - US$10m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2019.)

So, Lakeland Industries has an ROCE of 5.9%.

Check out our latest analysis for Lakeland Industries

Does Lakeland Industries Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Lakeland Industries's ROCE is meaningfully below the Luxury industry average of 13%. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Separate from how Lakeland Industries stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

As we can see, Lakeland Industries currently has an ROCE of 5.9%, less than the 17% it reported 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

NasdaqGM:LAKE Past Revenue and Net Income, May 13th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Lakeland Industries.

Do Lakeland Industries's Current Liabilities Skew 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Lakeland Industries has total liabilities of US$10m and total assets of US$95m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 11% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

What We Can Learn From Lakeland Industries's ROCE

That said, Lakeland Industries's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. 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).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.