Why We Like National Presto Industries, Inc.’s (NYSE:NPK) 17% Return On Capital Employed

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Today we are going to look at National Presto Industries, Inc. (NYSE:NPK) 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.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. 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 ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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?

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 National Presto Industries:

0.17 = US$62m ÷ (US$404m – US$50m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, National Presto Industries has an ROCE of 17%.

View our latest analysis for National Presto Industries

Is National Presto Industries’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. National Presto Industries’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 12% average in the Aerospace & Defense industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Separate from National Presto Industries’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

NYSE:NPK Last Perf February 6th 19
NYSE:NPK Last Perf February 6th 19

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. How cyclical is National Presto Industries? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How National Presto Industries’s Current Liabilities Impact Its 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

National Presto Industries has total assets of US$404m and current liabilities of US$50m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On National Presto Industries’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, National Presto Industries could be worth a closer look. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than National Presto Industries. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.