Does Neogen Corporation’s (NASDAQ:NEOG) ROCE Reflect Well On The Business?

Today we’ll evaluate Neogen Corporation (NASDAQ:NEOG) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into 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.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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’.

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 Neogen:

0.11 = US$70m ÷ (US$660m – US$39m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to November 2018.)

So, Neogen has an ROCE of 11%.

See our latest analysis for Neogen

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Is Neogen’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Neogen’s ROCE appears to be around the 11% average of the Medical Equipment industry. Separate from Neogen’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

NASDAQGS:NEOG Last Perf January 30th 19
NASDAQGS:NEOG Last Perf January 30th 19

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Neogen’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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.

Neogen has total assets of US$660m and current liabilities of US$39m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 5.9% of its total assets. In addition to low current liabilities (making a negligible impact on ROCE), Neogen earns a sound return on capital employed.

The Bottom Line On Neogen’s ROCE

This is good to see, and while better prospects may exist, Neogen seems worth researching further. 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.

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To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.