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Does Axalta Coating Systems Ltd. (NYSE:AXTA) Create Value For Shareholders?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Axalta Coating Systems Ltd. (NYSE:AXTA) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into 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. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.'

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Axalta Coating Systems:

0.096 = US$549m ÷ (US$6.7b - US$997m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Axalta Coating Systems has an ROCE of 9.6%.

See our latest analysis for Axalta Coating Systems

Is Axalta Coating Systems's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Axalta Coating Systems's ROCE is fairly close to the Chemicals industry average of 10%. Aside from the industry comparison, Axalta Coating Systems'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.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Axalta Coating Systems's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:AXTA Past Revenue and Net Income, August 19th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Axalta Coating Systems's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Axalta Coating Systems has total assets of US$6.7b and current liabilities of US$997m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 15% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

Our Take On Axalta Coating Systems's ROCE

If Axalta Coating Systems continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. You might be able to find a better investment than Axalta Coating Systems. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.