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How Good Is Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:DLB) At Creating Shareholder Value?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:DLB) 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Dolby Laboratories:

0.12 = US$294m ÷ (US$2.8b - US$307m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Dolby Laboratories has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for Dolby Laboratories

Is Dolby Laboratories's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Dolby Laboratories's ROCE is fairly close to the Electronic industry average of 12%. Regardless of where Dolby Laboratories sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

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

NYSE:DLB Past Revenue and Net Income, January 2nd 2020

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Dolby Laboratories.

Do Dolby Laboratories's Current Liabilities Skew Its 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.

Dolby Laboratories has total liabilities of US$307m and total assets of US$2.8b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 11% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Dolby Laboratories's ROCE

With that in mind, Dolby Laboratories's ROCE appears pretty good. There might be better investments than Dolby Laboratories 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.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.