Is Gentherm Incorporated’s (NASDAQ:THRM) Return On Capital Employed Any Good?

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Today we’ll evaluate Gentherm Incorporated (NASDAQ:THRM) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

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 Gentherm:

0.14 = US$88m ÷ (US$803m – US$175m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Gentherm has an ROCE of 14%.

View our latest analysis for Gentherm

Is Gentherm’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Gentherm’s ROCE appears to be around the 15% average of the Auto Components industry. Separate from Gentherm’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Gentherm’s current ROCE of 14% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 24% ROCE. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges.

NasdaqGS:THRM Past Revenue and Net Income, February 25th 2019
NasdaqGS:THRM Past Revenue and Net Income, February 25th 2019

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Gentherm.

Do Gentherm’s Current Liabilities Skew Its 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Gentherm has total assets of US$803m and current liabilities of US$175m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 22% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Gentherm’s ROCE

With that in mind, Gentherm’s ROCE appears pretty good. You might be able to find a better buy than Gentherm. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

I will like Gentherm 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.