Is Standex International Corporation (NYSE:SXI) Investing Effectively In Its Business?

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Today we’ll look at Standex International Corporation (NYSE:SXI) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. 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 Standex International:

0.11 = US$94m ÷ (US$1.0b – US$130m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Standex International has an ROCE of 11%.

Check out our latest analysis for Standex International

Does Standex International Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Standex International’s ROCE is around the 11% average reported by the Machinery industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Standex International’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

As we can see, Standex International currently has an ROCE of 11%, less than the 15% it reported 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

NYSE:SXI Past Revenue and Net Income, June 5th 2019
NYSE:SXI Past Revenue and Net Income, June 5th 2019

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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Standex International.

Standex International’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 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.

Standex International has total assets of US$1.0b and current liabilities of US$130m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 13% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

What We Can Learn From Standex International’s ROCE

With that in mind, we’re not overly impressed with Standex International’s ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Standex International. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.