Has Franklin Electric Co., Inc. (NASDAQ:FELE) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

Today we are going to look at Franklin Electric Co., Inc. (NASDAQ:FELE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding 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. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Franklin Electric:

0.13 = US$124m ÷ (US$1.2b – US$284m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Franklin Electric has an ROCE of 13%.

See our latest analysis for Franklin Electric

Is Franklin Electric’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Franklin Electric’s ROCE is fairly close to the Machinery industry average of 11%. Regardless of where Franklin Electric sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

NasdaqGS:FELE Past Revenue and Net Income, April 26th 2019
NasdaqGS:FELE Past Revenue and Net Income, April 26th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Franklin Electric’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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.

Franklin Electric has total liabilities of US$284m and total assets of US$1.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 23% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Franklin Electric’s ROCE

Overall, Franklin Electric has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Franklin Electric shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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.