Here’s What Premier, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:PINC) ROCE Can Tell Us

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Today we’ll evaluate Premier, Inc. (NASDAQ:PINC) 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.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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. 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’.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Premier:

0.29 = US$569m ÷ (US$2.5b – US$470m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, Premier has an ROCE of 29%.

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Does Premier Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Premier’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 13% average in the Healthcare industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Premier’s ROCE is currently very good.

Our data shows that Premier currently has an ROCE of 29%, compared to its ROCE of 19% 3 years ago. This makes us think the business might be improving.

NasdaqGS:PINC Last Perf January 11th 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Premier.

How Premier’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Premier has total assets of US$2.5b and current liabilities of US$470m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. The fairly low level of current liabilities won’t have much impact on the already great ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Premier’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, Premier may be worth a closer look. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Premier. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.

2019-01-11 12:52:00

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