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Today we’ll look at UFP Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:UFPT) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.
Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. 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 metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?
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 UFP Technologies:
0.13 = US$22m ÷ (US$193m – US$19m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)
So, UFP Technologies has an ROCE of 13%.
Is UFP Technologies’s ROCE Good?
ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, UFP Technologies’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 10% average in the Packaging industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Independently of how UFP Technologies compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.
Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
Do UFP Technologies’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?
Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.
UFP Technologies has total liabilities of US$19m and total assets of US$193m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 9.8% of its total assets. With low current liabilities, UFP Technologies’s decent ROCE looks that much more respectable.
Our Take On UFP Technologies’s ROCE
If UFP Technologies can continue reinvesting in its business, it could be an attractive prospect. UFP Technologies shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.
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 email@example.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.