How Do Innophos Holdings, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:IPHS) Returns On Capital Compare To Peers?

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Today we’ll look at Innophos Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:IPHS) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed 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’.

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 Innophos Holdings:

0.085 = US$65m ÷ (US$865m – US$105m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Innophos Holdings has an ROCE of 8.5%.

See our latest analysis for Innophos Holdings

Does Innophos Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Innophos Holdings’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 11% average reported by the Chemicals industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Aside from the industry comparison, Innophos Holdings’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

Innophos Holdings’s current ROCE of 8.5% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 12% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

NasdaqGS:IPHS Past Revenue and Net Income, June 11th 2019
NasdaqGS:IPHS Past Revenue and Net Income, June 11th 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Innophos Holdings.

Innophos Holdings’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Innophos Holdings has total liabilities of US$105m and total assets of US$865m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Innophos Holdings’s ROCE

With that in mind, we’re not overly impressed with Innophos Holdings’s ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. You might be able to find a better investment than Innophos Holdings. 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.