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Do Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.’s (NYSE:APD) Returns On Capital Employed Make The Cut?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. 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?

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 Air Products and Chemicals:

0.12 = US$2.0b ÷ (US$19b - US$2.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Air Products and Chemicals has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for Air Products and Chemicals

Does Air Products and Chemicals Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Air Products and Chemicals's ROCE is around the 12% average reported by the Chemicals industry. Separate from Air Products and Chemicals's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

NYSE:APD Past Revenue and Net Income, April 15th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Air Products and Chemicals.

Air Products and Chemicals'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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Air Products and Chemicals has total assets of US$19b and current liabilities of US$2.3b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Air Products and Chemicals's ROCE

Overall, Air Products and Chemicals has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Air Products and Chemicals looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

I will like Air Products and Chemicals 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.