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BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:BWXT) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:BWXT) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. 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 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 BWX Technologies:

0.18 = US$271m ÷ (US$1.8b - US$334m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, BWX Technologies has an ROCE of 18%.

Check out our latest analysis for BWX Technologies

Does BWX Technologies Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that BWX Technologies's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 11% average in the Aerospace & Defense industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how BWX Technologies compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

You can see in the image below how BWX Technologies's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:BWXT Past Revenue and Net Income, November 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 BWX Technologies.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect BWX Technologies's ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

BWX Technologies has total liabilities of US$334m and total assets of US$1.8b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 18% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On BWX Technologies's ROCE

With that in mind, BWX Technologies's ROCE appears pretty good. BWX Technologies 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 are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.