How Do Huber+Suhner AG’s (VTX:HUBN) Returns Compare To Its Industry?

Today we’ll look at Huber+Suhner AG (VTX:HUBN) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, 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.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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. 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’.

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 Huber+Suhner:

0.11 = CHF54m ÷ (CHF772m – CHF136m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

Therefore, Huber+Suhner has an ROCE of 11%.

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Is Huber+Suhner’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Huber+Suhner’s ROCE is around the 12% average reported by the Electrical industry. Separate from how Huber+Suhner stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

In our analysis, Huber+Suhner’s ROCE appears to be 11%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 8.8%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly.

SWX:HUBN Last Perf January 18th 19
SWX:HUBN Last Perf January 18th 19

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Huber+Suhner.

Huber+Suhner’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Huber+Suhner has total liabilities of CHF136m and total assets of CHF772m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 18% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Huber+Suhner’s ROCE

With that in mind, we’re not overly impressed with Huber+Suhner’s ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.