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Do Akamai Technologies, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AKAM) Returns On Capital Employed Make The Cut?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

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. 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.'

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 Akamai Technologies:

0.10 = US$479m ÷ (US$5.2b - US$570m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Akamai Technologies has an ROCE of 10%.

View our latest analysis for Akamai Technologies

Is Akamai Technologies's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Akamai Technologies's ROCE is around the 9.7% average reported by the IT industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Akamai Technologies's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

NasdaqGS:AKAM Past Revenue and Net Income, June 11th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Akamai Technologies.

How Akamai Technologies's Current Liabilities Impact 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Akamai Technologies has total liabilities of US$570m and total assets of US$5.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 11% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Akamai Technologies's ROCE

That said, Akamai Technologies's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

I will like Akamai Technologies 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.