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KEMET Corporation (NYSE:KEM) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at KEMET Corporation (NYSE:KEM) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we 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.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from 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. 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?

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 KEMET:

0.20 = US$188m ÷ (US$1.2b - US$275m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, KEMET has an ROCE of 20%.

Check out our latest analysis for KEMET

Is KEMET's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. KEMET's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 12% average in the Electronic industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how KEMET compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

Our data shows that KEMET currently has an ROCE of 20%, compared to its ROCE of 5.8% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly.

NYSE:KEM Past Revenue and Net Income, May 8th 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 only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for KEMET.

Do KEMET's Current Liabilities Skew 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 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.

KEMET has total liabilities of US$275m and total assets of US$1.2b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 22% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From KEMET's ROCE

With that in mind, KEMET's ROCE appears pretty good. KEMET 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.