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Is ZAGG Inc (NASDAQ:ZAGG) Struggling With Its 6.6% Return On Capital Employed?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at ZAGG Inc (NASDAQ:ZAGG) 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. 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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 ZAGG:

0.066 = US$18m ÷ (US$395m - US$127m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, ZAGG has an ROCE of 6.6%.

Check out our latest analysis for ZAGG

Is ZAGG's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In this analysis, ZAGG's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 12% average reported by the Consumer Durables industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Separate from how ZAGG stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

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

NasdaqGS:ZAGG Past Revenue and Net Income, October 11th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do ZAGG's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that 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.

ZAGG has total liabilities of US$127m and total assets of US$395m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 32% of its total assets. ZAGG has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost its ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On ZAGG's ROCE

Unfortunately, its ROCE is still uninspiring, and there are potentially more attractive prospects out there. 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.