Has Crane Co. (NYSE:CR) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

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Today we are going to look at Crane Co. (NYSE:CR) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we 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.

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.’

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 Crane:

0.14 = US$465m ÷ (US$4.1b – US$704m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Crane has an ROCE of 14%.

View our latest analysis for Crane

Does Crane Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Crane’s ROCE is around the 11% average reported by the Machinery industry. Regardless of where Crane sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

NYSE:CR Past Revenue and Net Income, June 4th 2019
NYSE:CR Past Revenue and Net Income, June 4th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Crane.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Crane’s 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Crane has total liabilities of US$704m and total assets of US$4.1b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 17% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Crane’s ROCE

Overall, Crane has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Crane 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.