What Can We Make Of United-Guardian, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:UG) High Return On Capital?

Today we are going to look at United-Guardian, Inc. (NASDAQ:UG) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. 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 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’.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

Or for United-Guardian:

0.45 = US$4.9m ÷ (US$13m – US$1.6m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, United-Guardian has an ROCE of 45%.

Check out our latest analysis for United-Guardian

Does United-Guardian Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, we find that United-Guardian’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 19% average in the Personal Products 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, United-Guardian’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

In our analysis, United-Guardian’s ROCE appears to be 45%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 23%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

NasdaqGM:UG Past Revenue and Net Income, September 3rd 2019
NasdaqGM:UG Past Revenue and Net Income, September 3rd 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. You can check if United-Guardian has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect United-Guardian’s ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

United-Guardian has total liabilities of US$1.6m and total assets of US$13m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 13% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From United-Guardian’s ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, United-Guardian could be worthy of further investigation. There might be better investments than United-Guardian out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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.