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Is Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ:ATRO) Investing Effectively In Its Business?

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ:ATRO) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed 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.'

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 Astronics:

0.12 = US$76m ÷ (US$781m - US$148m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Astronics has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for Astronics

Does Astronics Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Astronics's ROCE appears to be around the 12% average of the Aerospace & Defense industry. Regardless of where Astronics sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

Astronics's current ROCE of 12% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 19%, 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Astronics's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:ATRO Past Revenue and Net Income, July 11th 2019
NasdaqGS:ATRO Past Revenue and Net Income, July 11th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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 only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Astronics.

How Astronics's Current Liabilities Impact 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.

Astronics has total liabilities of US$148m and total assets of US$781m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Astronics's ROCE

Overall, Astronics has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Astronics 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.