Is Tucows Inc. (NASDAQ:TCX) Investing Effectively In Its Business?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Tucows Inc. (NASDAQ:TCX) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 Tucows:

0.11 = US$30m ÷ (US$426m - US$157m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

Therefore, Tucows has an ROCE of 11%.

See our latest analysis for Tucows

Is Tucows's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. It appears that Tucows's ROCE is fairly close to the IT industry average of 11%. Separate from Tucows's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

We can see that, Tucows currently has an ROCE of 11%, less than the 36% it reported 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Tucows's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqCM:TCX Past Revenue and Net Income April 9th 2020

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. If Tucows is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Do Tucows's Current Liabilities Skew 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 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.

Tucows has total assets of US$426m and current liabilities of US$157m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 37% of its total assets. Tucows has a middling amount of current liabilities, increasing its ROCE somewhat.

Our Take On Tucows's ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it's worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. Tucows 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.

Tucows is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

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.