Is Werner Enterprises, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:WERN) Return On Capital Employed Any Good?

Today we are going to look at Werner Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ:WERN) 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.

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 Werner Enterprises:

0.12 = US$226m ÷ (US$2.2b – US$332m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Werner Enterprises has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for Werner Enterprises

Does Werner Enterprises Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Werner Enterprises’s ROCE appears to be around the 11% average of the Transportation industry. Separate from Werner Enterprises’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Our data shows that Werner Enterprises currently has an ROCE of 12%, compared to its ROCE of 8.8% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. The image below shows how Werner Enterprises’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NasdaqGS:WERN Past Revenue and Net Income, January 16th 2020
NasdaqGS:WERN Past Revenue and Net Income, January 16th 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Werner Enterprises’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Werner Enterprises has total assets of US$2.2b and current liabilities of US$332m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 15% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Werner Enterprises’s ROCE

Overall, Werner Enterprises has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Werner Enterprises 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 are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.