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What Can We Make Of Hurco Companies, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:HURC) High Return On Capital?

Casey Hall

Today we’ll evaluate Hurco Companies, Inc. ( NASDAQ:HURC ) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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.’

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 Hurco Companies:

0.15 = US$35m ÷ (US$315m – US$87m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2018.)

So, Hurco Companies has an ROCE of 15%.

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Does Hurco Companies Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Hurco Companies’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 12% average in the Machinery industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Hurco Companies sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.


NasdaqGS:HURC Last Perf January 20th 19

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. If Hurco Companies is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow .

How Hurco Companies’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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Hurco Companies has total assets of US$315m and current liabilities of US$87m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 28% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Hurco Companies’s ROCE

With that in mind, Hurco Companies’s ROCE appears pretty good. You might be able to find a better buy than Hurco Companies. 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).

I will like Hurco Companies better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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 .