Evaluating Gencor Industries, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GENC) Investments In Its Business

Today we’ll look at Gencor Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:GENC) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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 Gencor Industries:

0.095 = US$14m ÷ (US$153m – US$8.5m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, Gencor Industries has an ROCE of 9.5%.

View our latest analysis for Gencor Industries

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Is Gencor Industries’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Gencor Industries’s ROCE appears to be around the 12% average of the Machinery industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Gencor Industries’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

Gencor Industries has an ROCE of 9.5%, but it didn’t have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

NASDAQGM:GENC Last Perf January 31st 19
NASDAQGM:GENC Last Perf January 31st 19

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. If Gencor Industries is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Gencor Industries’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 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Gencor Industries has total assets of US$153m and current liabilities of US$8.5m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 5.5% of its total assets. Gencor Industries reports few current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its unremarkable ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Gencor Industries’s ROCE

Based on this information, Gencor Industries appears to be a mediocre business. You might be able to find a better buy than Gencor Industries. 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).

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.com.