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Has AVX Corporation (NYSE:AVX) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

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Today we are going to look at AVX Corporation (NYSE:AVX) 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

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

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) Ã· (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for AVX:

0.12 = US\$306m Ã· (US\$2.8b - US\$313m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, AVX has an ROCE of 12%.

Is AVX's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, AVX's ROCE appears to be around the 12% average of the Electronic industry. Independently of how AVX compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

Our data shows that AVX currently has an ROCE of 12%, compared to its ROCE of 7.6% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can see in the image below how AVX's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

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, 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 AVX.

Do AVX's Current Liabilities Skew 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. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

AVX has total assets of US\$2.8b and current liabilities of US\$313m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 11% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On AVX's ROCE

Overall, AVX has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. There might be better investments than AVX out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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.