Today we are going to look at SoftTech Engineers Limited (NSE:SOFTTECH) 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. 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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 SoftTech Engineers:
0.21 = ₹115m ÷ (₹762m – ₹153m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)
Therefore, SoftTech Engineers has an ROCE of 21%.
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Does SoftTech Engineers Have A Good ROCE?
One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that SoftTech Engineers’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 10% average in the Software industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Independently of how SoftTech Engineers compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.
When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. How cyclical is SoftTech Engineers? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect SoftTech Engineers’s 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 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.
SoftTech Engineers has total assets of ₹762m and current liabilities of ₹153m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 20% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.
Our Take On SoftTech Engineers’s ROCE
With that in mind, SoftTech Engineers’s ROCE appears pretty good. 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.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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 email@example.com.