Kimball International, Inc. (NASDAQ:KBAL) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

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Today we’ll look at Kimball International, Inc. (NASDAQ:KBAL) 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, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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?

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 Kimball International:

0.23 = US$49m ÷ (US$340m – US$125m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Kimball International has an ROCE of 23%.

Check out our latest analysis for Kimball International

Is Kimball International’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Kimball International’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 10% average in the Commercial Services industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Kimball International’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

NasdaqGS:KBAL Past Revenue and Net Income, May 1st 2019
NasdaqGS:KBAL Past Revenue and Net Income, May 1st 2019

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. How cyclical is Kimball International? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Kimball International’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Kimball International has total liabilities of US$125m and total assets of US$340m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 37% of its total assets. A medium level of current liabilities boosts Kimball International’s ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On Kimball International’s ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. Kimball International 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 Kimball International 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 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.