Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE:RHI) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

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Today we’ll look at Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE:RHI) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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’.

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 Robert Half International:

0.46 = US$599m ÷ (US$2.2b – US$901m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Robert Half International has an ROCE of 46%.

See our latest analysis for Robert Half International

Does Robert Half International Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Robert Half International’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 11% average in the Professional Services industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Robert Half International’s ROCE is currently very good.

NYSE:RHI Past Revenue and Net Income, June 22nd 2019
NYSE:RHI Past Revenue and Net Income, June 22nd 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Robert Half International.

Do Robert Half International’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Robert Half International has total assets of US$2.2b and current liabilities of US$901m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 41% of its total assets. Robert Half International’s ROCE is boosted somewhat by its middling amount of current liabilities.

Our Take On Robert Half International’s ROCE

Even so, it has a great ROCE, and could be an attractive prospect for further research. Robert Half International shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.