Should You Like Brady Corporation’s (NYSE:BRC) High Return On Capital Employed?

Today we’ll look at Brady Corporation (NYSE:BRC) 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.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed 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’.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Brady:

0.17 = US$163m ÷ (US$1.2b – US$256m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2019.)

Therefore, Brady has an ROCE of 17%.

See our latest analysis for Brady

Does Brady Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Brady’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.4% average in the Commercial Services industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Brady’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

The image below shows how Brady’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:BRC Past Revenue and Net Income, February 6th 2020
NYSE:BRC Past Revenue and Net Income, February 6th 2020

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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Brady.

Do Brady’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 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Brady has current liabilities of US$256m and total assets of US$1.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 21% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Brady’s ROCE

With that in mind, Brady’s ROCE appears pretty good. Brady looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.