Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE:RHI) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

Today we’ll evaluate Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE:RHI) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its 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 metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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’.

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 Robert Half International:

0.54 = US$587m ÷ (US$1.9b – US$820m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Robert Half International has an ROCE of 54%.

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. In our analysis, Robert Half International’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 12% average in the Professional Services industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Robert Half International’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

NYSE:RHI Past Revenue and Net Income, March 20th 2019
NYSE:RHI Past Revenue and Net Income, March 20th 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our 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 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Robert Half International has total liabilities of US$820m and total assets of US$1.9b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 43% of its total assets. Robert Half International has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On Robert Half International’s ROCE

Even so, it has a great ROCE, and could be an attractive prospect for further research. You might be able to find a better buy than Robert Half International. 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).

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.