A Close Look At Hillenbrand, Inc.’s (NYSE:HI) 17% ROCE

Today we’ll evaluate Hillenbrand, Inc. (NYSE:HI) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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?

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 Hillenbrand:

0.17 = US$235m ÷ (US$1.9b – US$506m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Hillenbrand has an ROCE of 17%.

See our latest analysis for Hillenbrand

Is Hillenbrand’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Hillenbrand’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 11% average in the Machinery industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Separate from Hillenbrand’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Our data shows that Hillenbrand currently has an ROCE of 17%, compared to its ROCE of 13% 3 years ago. This makes us think the business might be improving.

NYSE:HI Past Revenue and Net Income, July 27th 2019
NYSE:HI Past Revenue and Net Income, July 27th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Hillenbrand.

Do Hillenbrand’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Hillenbrand has total liabilities of US$506m and total assets of US$1.9b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 27% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Hillenbrand’s ROCE

With that in mind, Hillenbrand’s ROCE appears pretty good. Hillenbrand 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.

I will like Hillenbrand better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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.