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Here's What Abiomed, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:ABMD) ROCE Can Tell Us

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Abiomed, Inc. (NASDAQ:ABMD) 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we 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 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. 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 Abiomed:

0.24 = US$224m ÷ (US$1.1b - US$106m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Abiomed has an ROCE of 24%.

View our latest analysis for Abiomed

Is Abiomed's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Abiomed's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 10% average in the Medical Equipment industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Abiomed's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

We can see that , Abiomed currently has an ROCE of 24% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 18%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can see in the image below how Abiomed's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqGS:ABMD Past Revenue and Net Income, July 1st 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Abiomed's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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.

Abiomed has total assets of US$1.1b and current liabilities of US$106m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 10% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Abiomed's ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Abiomed could be worthy of further investigation. Abiomed 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.

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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.