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How Do Akamai Technologies, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AKAM) Returns Compare To Its Industry?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First of all, we'll work out how to 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.

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

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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?

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 Akamai Technologies:

0.093 = US$534m ÷ (US$6.4b - US$603m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Akamai Technologies has an ROCE of 9.3%.

See our latest analysis for Akamai Technologies

Is Akamai Technologies's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Akamai Technologies's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 12% average in the IT industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Separate from how Akamai Technologies stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

The image below shows how Akamai Technologies's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NasdaqGS:AKAM Past Revenue and Net Income, December 2nd 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. 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.

How Akamai Technologies's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. 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.

Akamai Technologies has total liabilities of US$603m and total assets of US$6.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 9.5% of its total assets. Akamai Technologies reports few current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its unremarkable ROCE.

Our Take On Akamai Technologies's ROCE

If performance improves, then Akamai Technologies may be an OK investment, especially at the right valuation. 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.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.