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Qualys, Inc. (NASDAQ:QLYS) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Qualys, Inc. (NASDAQ:QLYS) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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'.

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 Qualys:

0.14 = US$61m ÷ (US$646m - US$209m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Qualys has an ROCE of 14%.

View our latest analysis for Qualys

Is Qualys's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Qualys's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.4% average in the Software industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Separate from Qualys's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

You can see in the image below how Qualys's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqGS:QLYS Past Revenue and Net Income, August 13th 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Qualys.

Qualys's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Qualys has total liabilities of US$209m and total assets of US$646m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 32% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, Qualys's ROCE is boosted somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Qualys's ROCE

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

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.