Should You Worry About Tech Data Corporation’s (NASDAQ:TECD) ROCE?

Today we are going to look at Tech Data Corporation (NASDAQ:TECD) 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 up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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 measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its 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?

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 Tech Data:

0.13 = US$505m ÷ (US$13b – US$8.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2018.)

Therefore, Tech Data has an ROCE of 13%.

See our latest analysis for Tech Data

Does Tech Data Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Tech Data’s ROCE is around the 12% average reported by the Electronic industry. Independently of how Tech Data compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

NASDAQGS:TECD Last Perf January 24th 19
NASDAQGS:TECD Last Perf January 24th 19

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Tech Data’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

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

Tech Data has total assets of US$13b and current liabilities of US$8.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 66% of its total assets. This is admittedly a high level of current liabilities, improving ROCE substantially.

Our Take On Tech Data’s ROCE

This ROCE is pretty good, but remember that it would look less impressive with fewer current liabilities. You might be able to find a better buy than Tech Data. 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).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.