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Should You Like Atkore International Group Inc.’s (NYSE:ATKR) High Return On Capital Employed?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Atkore International Group Inc. (NYSE:ATKR) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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 Atkore International Group:

0.18 = US$211m ÷ (US$1.4b - US$269m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Atkore International Group has an ROCE of 18%.

See our latest analysis for Atkore International Group

Does Atkore International Group Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Atkore International Group's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 11% average in the Electrical industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Regardless of where Atkore International Group sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

Our data shows that Atkore International Group currently has an ROCE of 18%, compared to its ROCE of 12% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. The image below shows how Atkore International Group's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:ATKR Past Revenue and Net Income, November 4th 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Atkore International Group.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Atkore International Group's ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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.

Atkore International Group has total assets of US$1.4b and current liabilities of US$269m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 19% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Atkore International Group's ROCE

Overall, Atkore International Group has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Atkore International Group 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 Atkore International Group 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.