Are Minerals Technologies Inc.’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Today we’ll look at Minerals Technologies Inc. (NYSE:MTX) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

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 is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Minerals Technologies:

0.087 = US$236m ÷ (US$3.1b – US$410m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Minerals Technologies has an ROCE of 8.7%.

Check out our latest analysis for Minerals Technologies

Is Minerals Technologies’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. It appears that Minerals Technologies’s ROCE is fairly close to the Chemicals industry average of 10%. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Minerals Technologies’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

You can see in the image below how Minerals Technologies’s ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:MTX Past Revenue and Net Income, January 27th 2020
NYSE:MTX Past Revenue and Net Income, January 27th 2020

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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Minerals Technologies.

How Minerals Technologies’s Current Liabilities Impact 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Minerals Technologies has total liabilities of US$410m and total assets of US$3.1b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Minerals Technologies’s ROCE

That said, Minerals Technologies’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).

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.