U.S. Markets close in 4 hrs 20 mins

Are Camtek Ltd.’s (NASDAQ:CAMT) High Returns Really That Great?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Camtek Ltd. (NASDAQ:CAMT) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 Camtek:

0.18 = US$23m ÷ (US$164m - US$31m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Camtek has an ROCE of 18%.

See our latest analysis for Camtek

Is Camtek's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Camtek's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.9% average in the Semiconductor 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. Separate from Camtek's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Our data shows that Camtek currently has an ROCE of 18%, compared to its ROCE of 9.0% 3 years ago. This makes us think the business might be improving. The image below shows how Camtek's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NasdaqGM:CAMT Past Revenue and Net Income, December 30th 2019
NasdaqGM:CAMT Past Revenue and Net Income, December 30th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

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

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Camtek has total assets of US$164m and current liabilities of US$31m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Camtek's ROCE

With that in mind, Camtek's ROCE appears pretty good. Camtek 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.

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.