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A Close Look At Meritor, Inc.’s (NYSE:MTOR) 22% ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Meritor, Inc. (NYSE:MTOR) 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.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Meritor:

0.22 = US$385m ÷ (US$2.7b - US$1.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Meritor has an ROCE of 22%.

Check out our latest analysis for Meritor

Does Meritor Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Meritor's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 12% average in the Machinery industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Meritor's ROCE is currently very good.

We can see that , Meritor currently has an ROCE of 22% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 17%. This makes us think the business might be improving. The image below shows how Meritor's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:MTOR Past Revenue and Net Income, September 8th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Meritor.

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

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Meritor has total assets of US$2.7b and current liabilities of US$1.0b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 37% of its total assets. A medium level of current liabilities boosts Meritor's ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Meritor's ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. There might be better investments than Meritor 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.