Why We’re Not Impressed By LRAD Corporation’s (NASDAQ:LRAD) 2.8% ROCE

Today we are going to look at LRAD Corporation (NASDAQ:LRAD) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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 LRAD:

0.028 = US$1.1m ÷ (US$42m – US$4.7m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, LRAD has an ROCE of 2.8%.

Check out our latest analysis for LRAD

Is LRAD’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In this analysis, LRAD’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 12% average reported by the Electronic industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Putting aside LRAD’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor – considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

LRAD delivered an ROCE of 2.8%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. That implies the business has been improving.

NasdaqCM:LRAD Past Revenue and Net Income, September 2nd 2019
NasdaqCM:LRAD Past Revenue and Net Income, September 2nd 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 LRAD.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect LRAD’s 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

LRAD has total liabilities of US$4.7m and total assets of US$42m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 11% of its total assets. This is not a high level of current liabilities, which would not boost the ROCE by much.

What We Can Learn From LRAD’s ROCE

That’s not a bad thing, however LRAD has a weak ROCE and may not be an attractive investment. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than LRAD. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.