Here’s What Kimball International, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:KBAL) ROCE Can Tell Us

Today we’ll look at Kimball International, Inc. (NASDAQ:KBAL) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 Kimball International:

0.23 = US$53m ÷ (US$365m – US$133m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Kimball International has an ROCE of 23%.

View our latest analysis for Kimball International

Does Kimball International Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Kimball International’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 11% average in the Commercial Services industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Kimball International’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

NasdaqGS:KBAL Past Revenue and Net Income, September 2nd 2019
NasdaqGS:KBAL Past Revenue and Net Income, September 2nd 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. How cyclical is Kimball International? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Kimball International’s ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Kimball International has total liabilities of US$133m and total assets of US$365m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 36% of its total assets. A medium level of current liabilities boosts Kimball International’s ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On Kimball International’s ROCE

Even so, it has a great ROCE, and could be an attractive prospect for further research. Kimball International shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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.