Today we’ll look at Ryder System, Inc. (NYSE:R) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.
Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. 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 Ryder System:
0.061 = US$732m ÷ (US$14b – US$2.5b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)
So, Ryder System has an ROCE of 6.1%.
Does Ryder System Have A Good ROCE?
ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Ryder System’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 11% average in the Transportation industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Ryder System’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.
The image below shows how Ryder System’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.
When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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, 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.
What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Ryder System’s ROCE?
Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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.
Ryder System has total assets of US$14b and current liabilities of US$2.5b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 17% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.
What We Can Learn From Ryder System’s ROCE
That said, Ryder System’s ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Ryder System. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
Ryder System is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.