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Are Aviat Networks, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AVNW) Returns On Investment Worth Your While?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Aviat Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVNW) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 Aviat Networks:

0.063 = US$5.5m ÷ (US$176m - US$88m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Aviat Networks has an ROCE of 6.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for Aviat Networks

Does Aviat Networks Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. It appears that Aviat Networks's ROCE is fairly close to the Communications industry average of 7.0%. Aside from the industry comparison, Aviat Networks's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

Aviat Networks has an ROCE of 6.3%, but it didn't have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Aviat Networks's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:AVNW Past Revenue and Net Income, January 17th 2020

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 Aviat Networks.

Aviat Networks's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Aviat Networks has total assets of US$176m and current liabilities of US$88m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 50% of its total assets. With a high level of current liabilities, Aviat Networks will experience a boost to its ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Aviat Networks's ROCE

Despite this, the company also has a uninspiring ROCE, which is not an ideal combination in this analysis. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Aviat Networks. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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

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.