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Are Juniper Networks, Inc.’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Simply Wall St

Today we’ll evaluate Juniper Networks, Inc. (NYSE:JNPR) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

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. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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 Juniper Networks:

0.078 = US$584m ÷ (US$9.4b – US$1.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Juniper Networks has an ROCE of 7.8%.

See our latest analysis for Juniper Networks

Is Juniper Networks’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Juniper Networks’s ROCE appears to be around the 7.8% average of the Communications industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Juniper Networks’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

Juniper Networks’s current ROCE of 7.8% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 13% ROCE. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges.

NYSE:JNPR Past Revenue and Net Income, March 14th 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 Juniper Networks.

Juniper Networks’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, 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.

Juniper Networks has total liabilities of US$1.8b and total assets of US$9.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 20% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Juniper Networks’s ROCE

If Juniper Networks continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. But note: Juniper Networks may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.