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Is AAON, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAON) 24% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate AAON, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAON) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

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. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 AAON:

0.24 = US$69m ÷ (US$342m - US$59m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, AAON has an ROCE of 24%.

Check out our latest analysis for AAON

Does AAON Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. AAON's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 12% average in the Building industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, AAON's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

AAON's current ROCE of 24% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 39% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. You can see in the image below how AAON's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqGS:AAON Past Revenue and Net Income, September 10th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

AAON's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

AAON has total assets of US$342m and current liabilities of US$59m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 17% 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 AAON's ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making AAON look quite interesting. AAON 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.

I will like AAON better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.