Should You Worry About Tutor Perini Corporation’s (NYSE:TPC) ROCE?

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Today we are going to look at Tutor Perini Corporation (NYSE:TPC) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to 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 is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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.’

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 Tutor Perini:

0.073 = US$216m ÷ (US$4.6b – US$1.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Tutor Perini has an ROCE of 7.3%.

See our latest analysis for Tutor Perini

Does Tutor Perini Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Tutor Perini’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 9.5% average in the Construction industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Separate from how Tutor Perini stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

In our analysis, Tutor Perini’s ROCE appears to be 7.3%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 4.9%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly.

NYSE:TPC Past Revenue and Net Income, June 6th 2019
NYSE:TPC Past Revenue and Net Income, June 6th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Tutor Perini.

How Tutor Perini’s Current Liabilities Impact 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.

Tutor Perini has total assets of US$4.6b and current liabilities of US$1.6b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 35% of its total assets. Tutor Perini’s ROCE is improved somewhat by its moderate amount of current liabilities.

The Bottom Line On Tutor Perini’s ROCE

Unfortunately, its ROCE is still uninspiring, and there are potentially more attractive prospects out there. You might be able to find a better investment than Tutor Perini. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

I will like Tutor Perini 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.