Is Instem plc (LON:INS) Investing Effectively In Its Business?

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Today we’ll evaluate Instem plc (LON:INS) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into 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.

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

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

Or for Instem:

0.12 = UK£2.2m ÷ (UK£30m – UK£11m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Instem has an ROCE of 12%.

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Does Instem Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Instem’s ROCE is around the 11% average reported by the Healthcare Services industry. Separate from Instem’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

AIM:INS Past Revenue and Net Income, May 16th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Instem’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Instem has total assets of UK£30m and current liabilities of UK£11m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 37% of its total assets. Instem has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost the ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Instem’s ROCE

Instem’s ROCE does look good, but the level of current liabilities also contribute to that. Instem 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.

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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.