Here’s What Otelco Inc.’s (NASDAQ:OTEL) ROCE Can Tell Us

Today we are going to look at Otelco Inc. (NASDAQ:OTEL) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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?

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 Otelco:

0.15 = US$16m ÷ (US$118m – US$13m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Otelco has an ROCE of 15%.

Check out our latest analysis for Otelco

Does Otelco Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Otelco’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 6.1% average in the Telecom industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Separate from Otelco’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

NasdaqCM:OTEL Past Revenue and Net Income, September 9th 2019
NasdaqCM:OTEL Past Revenue and Net Income, September 9th 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. You can check if Otelco has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How Otelco’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. 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.

Otelco has total assets of US$118m and current liabilities of US$13m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 11% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Otelco’s ROCE

With that in mind, Otelco’s ROCE appears pretty good. There might be better investments than Otelco out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.