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Why We’re Not Impressed By inTEST Corporation’s (NYSEMKT:INTT) 8.4% ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate inTEST Corporation (NYSEMKT:INTT) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First, 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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 inTEST:

0.084 = US$4.3m ÷ (US$61m - US$9.6m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, inTEST has an ROCE of 8.4%.

View our latest analysis for inTEST

Does inTEST Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. It appears that inTEST's ROCE is fairly close to the Semiconductor industry average of 10%. Separate from how inTEST stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

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

AMEX:INTT Past Revenue and Net Income, November 12th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 inTEST.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect inTEST's 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

inTEST has total assets of US$61m and current liabilities of US$9.6m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 16% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On inTEST's ROCE

With that in mind, we're not overly impressed with inTEST's ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. You might be able to find a better investment than inTEST. 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).

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

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.