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What Does Computer Programs and Systems, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:CPSI) 8.6% ROCE Say About The Business?

Today we’ll evaluate Computer Programs and Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CPSI) 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.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Computer Programs and Systems:

0.086 = US\$25m ÷ (US\$328m – US\$39m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Computer Programs and Systems has an ROCE of 8.6%.

Does Computer Programs and Systems Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Computer Programs and Systems’s ROCE is around the 7.7% average reported by the Healthcare Services industry. Separate from how Computer Programs and Systems stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

Computer Programs and Systems’s current ROCE of 8.6% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 36% ROCE. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges.

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Computer Programs and Systems.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Computer Programs and Systems’s 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Computer Programs and Systems has total liabilities of US\$39m and total assets of US\$328m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Computer Programs and Systems’s ROCE

If Computer Programs and Systems continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. You might be able to find a better investment than Computer Programs and Systems. 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 are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.