Is Badger Meter, Inc. (NYSE:BMI) Investing Effectively In Its Business?

Today we’ll look at Badger Meter, Inc. (NYSE:BMI) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. 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?

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 Badger Meter:

0.11 = US$37m ÷ (US$393m – US$60m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Badger Meter has an ROCE of 11%.

View our latest analysis for Badger Meter

Does Badger Meter Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Badger Meter’s ROCE appears to be around the 11% average of the Electronic industry. Regardless of where Badger Meter sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

As we can see, Badger Meter currently has an ROCE of 11%, less than the 17% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NYSE:BMI Past Revenue and Net Income, March 17th 2019
NYSE:BMI Past Revenue and Net Income, March 17th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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 only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Badger Meter.

Do Badger Meter’s Current Liabilities Skew 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Badger Meter has total liabilities of US$60m and total assets of US$393m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 15% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Badger Meter’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Badger Meter could be worth a closer look. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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

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.