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Does Avast Plc (LON:AVST) Create Value For Shareholders?

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Today we'll evaluate Avast Plc (LON:AVST) 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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'.

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) Ã· (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Avast:

0.11 = US\$249m Ã· (US\$2.9b - US\$572m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Avast has an ROCE of 11%.

Is Avast's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. It appears that Avast's ROCE is fairly close to the Software industry average of 9.6%. Separate from Avast's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Avast.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Avast'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. 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.

Avast has total assets of US\$2.9b and current liabilities of US\$572m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 20% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Avast's ROCE

With that in mind, Avast's ROCE appears pretty good. Avast looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

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.