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How Do Plexus Corp.’s (NASDAQ:PLXS) Returns Compare To Its Industry?

Blake Harford

Today we’ll evaluate Plexus Corp. ( NASDAQ:PLXS ) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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’.

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 Plexus:

0.11 = US$131m ÷ (US$1.9b – US$738m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Plexus has an ROCE of 11%.

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Does Plexus Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. It appears that Plexus’s ROCE is fairly close to the Electronic industry average of 12%. Independently of how Plexus compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.


NasdaqGS:PLXS Last Perf January 11th 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Plexus .

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Plexus’s 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 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.

Plexus has total assets of US$1.9b and current liabilities of US$738m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 38% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, Plexus’s ROCE is boosted somewhat.

Our Take On Plexus’s ROCE

With a decent ROCE, the company could be interesting, but remember that the level of current liabilities make the ROCE look better. You might be able to find a better buy than Plexus. 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).

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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 .