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Are Garmin Ltd.’s (NASDAQ:GRMN) High Returns Really That Great?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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.'

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 Garmin:

0.17 = US$788m ÷ (US$5.3b - US$623m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Garmin has an ROCE of 17%.

Check out our latest analysis for Garmin

Does Garmin Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Garmin's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 11% average in the Consumer Durables 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. Independently of how Garmin compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

You can see in the image below how Garmin's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqGS:GRMN Past Revenue and Net Income, July 29th 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Garmin.

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

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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.

Garmin has total assets of US$5.3b and current liabilities of US$623m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 12% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Garmin's ROCE

Overall, Garmin has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Garmin 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.

I will like Garmin better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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.