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Should You Worry About Sykes Enterprises, Incorporated’s (NASDAQ:SYKE) ROCE?

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Simply Wall St
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Today we are going to look at Sykes Enterprises, Incorporated (NASDAQ:SYKE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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. 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?

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 Sykes Enterprises:

0.083 = US$95m ÷ (US$1.4b - US$233m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Sykes Enterprises has an ROCE of 8.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for Sykes Enterprises

Is Sykes Enterprises's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Sykes Enterprises's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 11% average in the IT industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Sykes Enterprises's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

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

NasdaqGS:SYKE Past Revenue and Net Income, October 23rd 2019
NasdaqGS:SYKE Past Revenue and Net Income, October 23rd 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Sykes Enterprises.

Do Sykes Enterprises's Current Liabilities Skew 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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Sykes Enterprises has total assets of US$1.4b and current liabilities of US$233m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 17% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Sykes Enterprises's ROCE

With that in mind, we're not overly impressed with Sykes Enterprises's ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. 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.

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.