Shareholders Should Look Hard At P&F Industries, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:PFIN) 3.2% Return On Capital

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

Today we are going to look at P&F Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:PFIN) 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. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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’.

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 P&F Industries:

0.032 = US$1.5m ÷ (US$56m – US$9.9m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, P&F Industries has an ROCE of 3.2%.

See our latest analysis for P&F Industries

Does P&F Industries Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In this analysis, P&F Industries’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 11% average reported by the Consumer Durables industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Regardless of how P&F Industries stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

P&F Industries’s current ROCE of 3.2% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 4.8% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NasdaqGM:PFIN Past Revenue and Net Income, May 8th 2019
NasdaqGM:PFIN Past Revenue and Net Income, May 8th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. 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. If P&F Industries is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Do P&F Industries’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

P&F Industries has total liabilities of US$9.9m and total assets of US$56m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 18% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

The Bottom Line On P&F Industries’s ROCE

P&F Industries has a poor ROCE, and there may be better investment prospects out there. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

I will like P&F Industries 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.