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Does Aker Solutions ASA (OB:AKSO) Create Value For Shareholders?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Aker Solutions ASA (OB:AKSO) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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'.

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 Aker Solutions:

0.074 = kr1.2b ÷ (kr27b - kr11b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Aker Solutions has an ROCE of 7.4%.

See our latest analysis for Aker Solutions

Does Aker Solutions Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Aker Solutions's ROCE is around the 7.4% average reported by the Energy Services industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Aker Solutions's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

We can see that, Aker Solutions currently has an ROCE of 7.4%, less than the 12% it reported 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Aker Solutions's past growth compares to other companies.

OB:AKSO Past Revenue and Net Income, December 3rd 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 only a point-in-time measure. Given the industry it operates in, Aker Solutions could be considered cyclical. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Aker Solutions.

Aker Solutions's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Aker Solutions has total assets of kr27b and current liabilities of kr11b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 41% of its total assets. Aker Solutions's middling level of current liabilities have the effect of boosting its ROCE a bit.

The Bottom Line On Aker Solutions's ROCE

Unfortunately, its ROCE is still uninspiring, and there are potentially more attractive prospects out there. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.