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Here's What Micron Technology, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:MU) ROCE Can Tell Us

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) and reflect on its potential as an investment. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Micron Technology:

0.17 = US$7.3b ÷ (US$49b - US$6.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to August 2019.)

So, Micron Technology has an ROCE of 17%.

See our latest analysis for Micron Technology

Is Micron Technology's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Micron Technology's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 10% average in the Semiconductor industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Micron Technology's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Our data shows that Micron Technology currently has an ROCE of 17%, compared to its ROCE of 1.1% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Micron Technology's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:MU Past Revenue and Net Income, October 1st 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Micron Technology.

Micron Technology'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. 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.

Micron Technology has total liabilities of US$6.4b and total assets of US$49b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 13% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Micron Technology's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Micron Technology could be worth a closer look. Micron Technology 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.