Today we'll evaluate Lindsay Corporation (NYSE:LNN) 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. 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. 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 Lindsay:
0.037 = US$16m ÷ (US$527m - US$85m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to November 2019.)
So, Lindsay has an ROCE of 3.7%.
Does Lindsay Have A Good ROCE?
ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Lindsay's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 11% average reported by the Machinery industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Independently of how Lindsay compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~1.7% available in government bonds. Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.
Lindsay's current ROCE of 3.7% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 6.4% ROCE. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges. You can see in the image below how Lindsay's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.
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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
How Lindsay's Current Liabilities Impact Its 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 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.
Lindsay has total assets of US$527m and current liabilities of US$85m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 16% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which will have a limited impact on the ROCE.
The Bottom Line On Lindsay's ROCE
While that is good to see, Lindsay has a low ROCE and does not look attractive in this analysis. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.
I will like Lindsay better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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