Why Premier, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:PINC) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Today we’ll evaluate Premier, Inc. (NASDAQ:PINC) 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.

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 measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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 Premier:

0.29 = US$569m ÷ (US$2.5b – US$470m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, Premier has an ROCE of 29%.

Check out our latest analysis for Premier

Is Premier’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Premier’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 13% average in the Healthcare industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Premier’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

In our analysis, Premier’s ROCE appears to be 29%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 19%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly.

NasdaqGS:PINC Last Perf January 7th 19
NasdaqGS:PINC Last Perf January 7th 19

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Premier’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Premier has total assets of US$2.5b and current liabilities of US$470m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 19% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Premier’s ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Premier could be worthy of further investigation. 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.