The Hackett Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:HCKT) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Today we’ll look at The Hackett Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:HCKT) and reflect on its potential as an investment. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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.

What is 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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’.

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 Hackett Group:

0.25 = US$37m ÷ (US$187m – US$39m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Hackett Group has an ROCE of 25%.

Check out our latest analysis for Hackett Group

Is Hackett Group’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Hackett Group’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 10% average in the IT industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Hackett Group’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

Our data shows that Hackett Group currently has an ROCE of 25%, compared to its ROCE of 19% 3 years ago. This makes us think the business might be improving.

NasdaqGS:HCKT Last Perf January 1st 19
NasdaqGS:HCKT Last Perf January 1st 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Hackett Group.

How Hackett Group’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

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

Hackett Group has total assets of US$187m and current liabilities of US$39m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 21% 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 Hackett Group’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, Hackett Group may be worth a closer look. But note: Hackett Group may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

Of course Hackett Group may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.

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.