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Investors Could Be Concerned With Integrated Research's (ASX:IRI) Returns On Capital

·3-min read

Did you know there are some financial metrics that can provide clues of a potential multi-bagger? In a perfect world, we'd like to see a company investing more capital into its business and ideally the returns earned from that capital are also increasing. If you see this, it typically means it's a company with a great business model and plenty of profitable reinvestment opportunities. In light of that, when we looked at Integrated Research (ASX:IRI) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.

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

If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Integrated Research:

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

0.095 = AU$9.8m ÷ (AU$135m - AU$32m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

Thus, Integrated Research has an ROCE of 9.5%. In absolute terms, that's a low return but it's around the Software industry average of 11%.

View our latest analysis for Integrated Research

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Integrated Research compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

So How Is Integrated Research's ROCE Trending?

On the surface, the trend of ROCE at Integrated Research doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 37% over the last five years. And considering revenue has dropped while employing more capital, we'd be cautious. This could mean that the business is losing its competitive advantage or market share, because while more money is being put into ventures, it's actually producing a lower return - "less bang for their buck" per se.

On a related note, Integrated Research has decreased its current liabilities to 23% of total assets. That could partly explain why the ROCE has dropped. Effectively this means their suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of the business, which reduces some elements of risk. Some would claim this reduces the business' efficiency at generating ROCE since it is now funding more of the operations with its own money.

The Key Takeaway

In summary, we're somewhat concerned by Integrated Research's diminishing returns on increasing amounts of capital. It should come as no surprise then that the stock has fallen 58% over the last five years, so it looks like investors are recognizing these changes. That being the case, unless the underlying trends revert to a more positive trajectory, we'd consider looking elsewhere.

One more thing, we've spotted 2 warning signs facing Integrated Research that you might find interesting.

While Integrated Research isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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