Herman Miller, Inc. (NASDAQ:MLHR) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

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Today we’ll evaluate Herman Miller, Inc. (NASDAQ:MLHR) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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?

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 Herman Miller:

0.19 = US$214m ÷ (US$1.6b – US$446m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Herman Miller has an ROCE of 19%.

Check out our latest analysis for Herman Miller

Does Herman Miller Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Herman Miller’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 11% 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. Separate from Herman Miller’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

NasdaqGS:MLHR Past Revenue and Net Income, July 5th 2019
NasdaqGS:MLHR Past Revenue and Net Income, July 5th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the 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 Herman Miller.

Herman Miller’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Herman Miller has total liabilities of US$446m and total assets of US$1.6b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 28% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Herman Miller’s ROCE

Overall, Herman Miller has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. There might be better investments than Herman Miller out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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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.