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Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE:RHI) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Robert Half International Inc. (NYSE:RHI) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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.

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 Robert Half International:

0.47 = US$621m ÷ (US$2.3b - US$977m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Robert Half International has an ROCE of 47%.

View our latest analysis for Robert Half International

Is Robert Half International's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In our analysis, Robert Half International's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 11% average in the Professional Services industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Robert Half International's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

The image below shows how Robert Half International's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:RHI Past Revenue and Net Income, December 23rd 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Robert Half International.

Robert Half International's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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.

Robert Half International has total assets of US$2.3b and current liabilities of US$977m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 42% of its total assets. Robert Half International has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On Robert Half International's ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. Robert Half International 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.