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Is There More To BorgWarner Inc. (NYSE:BWA) Than Its 15% Returns On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at BorgWarner Inc. (NYSE:BWA) 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. 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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'.

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 BorgWarner:

0.15 = US$1.2b ÷ (US$10b - US$2.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, BorgWarner has an ROCE of 15%.

Check out our latest analysis for BorgWarner

Is BorgWarner's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, BorgWarner's ROCE appears to be around the 15% average of the Auto Components industry. Independently of how BorgWarner compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how BorgWarner's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:BWA Past Revenue and Net Income, October 12th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do BorgWarner'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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

BorgWarner has total liabilities of US$2.3b and total assets of US$10b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 23% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On BorgWarner's ROCE

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