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Is Hurco Companies, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:HURC) Return On Capital Employed Any Good?

Today we are going to look at Hurco Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ:HURC) 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 up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

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

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

Or for Hurco Companies:

0.14 = US\$33m ÷ (US\$306m – US\$64m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2019.)

Therefore, Hurco Companies has an ROCE of 14%.

See our latest analysis for Hurco Companies

Does Hurco Companies Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Hurco Companies’s ROCE is fairly close to the Machinery industry average of 12%. Regardless of where Hurco Companies sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

The image below shows how Hurco Companies’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. How cyclical is Hurco Companies? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Do Hurco Companies’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. 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.

Hurco Companies has total liabilities of US\$64m and total assets of US\$306m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 21% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Hurco Companies’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Hurco Companies could be worth a closer look. Hurco Companies looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

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.