Digi International Inc.’s (NASDAQ:DGII) Investment Returns Are Lagging Its Industry

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Today we’ll evaluate Digi International Inc. (NASDAQ:DGII) 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. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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 Digi International:

0.043 = US$15m ÷ (US$384m – US$41m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Digi International has an ROCE of 4.3%.

See our latest analysis for Digi International

Is Digi International’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In this analysis, Digi International’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 7.8% average reported by the Communications industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Independently of how Digi International compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.7% available in government bonds. There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

NasdaqGS:DGII Past Revenue and Net Income, June 25th 2019
NasdaqGS:DGII Past Revenue and Net Income, June 25th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Digi International.

Digi International’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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.

Digi International has total liabilities of US$41m and total assets of US$384m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 11% 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 Digi International’s ROCE

While that is good to see, Digi International 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.

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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.