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Avery Dennison Corporation (NYSE:AVY) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Avery Dennison Corporation (NYSE:AVY) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we'll go over how we 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.

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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

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 Avery Dennison:

0.25 = US$804m ÷ (US$5.2b - US$2.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Avery Dennison has an ROCE of 25%.

View our latest analysis for Avery Dennison

Does Avery Dennison Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Avery Dennison's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 12% average in the Packaging industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Avery Dennison's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

In our analysis, Avery Dennison's ROCE appears to be 25%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 20%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly.

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

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Avery Dennison.

Avery Dennison'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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Avery Dennison has total assets of US$5.2b and current liabilities of US$2.0b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 39% of its total assets. A medium level of current liabilities boosts Avery Dennison's ROCE somewhat.

Our Take On Avery Dennison's ROCE

Despite this, it reports a high ROCE, and may be worth investigating further. Avery Dennison shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.