Why We’re Not Impressed By Teradata Corporation’s (NYSE:TDC) 4.9% ROCE

Today we’ll look at Teradata Corporation (NYSE:TDC) 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.

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.

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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Teradata:

0.049 = US$59m ÷ (US$2.0b – US$772m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Teradata has an ROCE of 4.9%.

See our latest analysis for Teradata

Is Teradata’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In this analysis, Teradata’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 9.8% average reported by the Software industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Separate from how Teradata stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

We can see that, Teradata currently has an ROCE of 4.9%, less than the 19% it reported 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. The image below shows how Teradata’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:TDC Past Revenue and Net Income, January 14th 2020
NYSE:TDC Past Revenue and Net Income, January 14th 2020

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Teradata.

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

Teradata has total assets of US$2.0b and current liabilities of US$772m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 39% of its total assets. Teradata’s middling level of current liabilities have the effect of boosting its ROCE a bit.

Our Take On Teradata’s ROCE

With this level of liabilities and a mediocre ROCE, there are potentially better investments out there. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.