Is Trackwise Designs Plc (LON:TWD) Investing Your Capital Efficiently?

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

Today we are going to look at Trackwise Designs Plc (LON:TWD) 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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.’

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 Trackwise Designs:

0.024 = UK£170k ÷ (UK£8.1m – UK£976k) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Trackwise Designs has an ROCE of 2.4%.

Check out our latest analysis for Trackwise Designs

Is Trackwise Designs’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Trackwise Designs’s ROCE is meaningfully below the Electronic industry average of 12%. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Independently of how Trackwise Designs compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~1.2% available in government bonds. There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

Trackwise Designs’s current ROCE of 2.4% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 10% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

AIM:TWD Past Revenue and Net Income, July 19th 2019
AIM:TWD Past Revenue and Net Income, July 19th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Trackwise Designs.

Do Trackwise Designs’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Trackwise Designs has total assets of UK£8.1m and current liabilities of UK£976k. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

What We Can Learn From Trackwise Designs’s ROCE

Trackwise Designs has a poor ROCE, and there may be better investment prospects out there. 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).

I will like Trackwise Designs better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.