Why We’re Not Impressed By Griffon Corporation’s (NYSE:GFF) 6.2% ROCE

Today we are going to look at Griffon Corporation (NYSE:GFF) 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. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

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. 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 Griffon:

0.061 = US$104m ÷ (US$2.1b – US$393m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, Griffon has an ROCE of 6.2%.

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Is Griffon’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Griffon’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 14% average in the Building industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Separate from how Griffon stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

As we can see, Griffon currently has an ROCE of 6.2% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 4.8%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly.

NYSE:GFF Last Perf January 11th 19
NYSE:GFF Last Perf January 11th 19

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

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

Griffon has total assets of US$2.1b and current liabilities of US$393m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 19% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Griffon’s ROCE

If Griffon continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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

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.