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Do Novanta Inc.’s (NASDAQ:NOVT) Returns On Capital Employed Make The Cut?

Bernadette Hatcher

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Today we are going to look at Novanta Inc. (NASDAQ:NOVT) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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 up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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?

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 Novanta:

0.12 = US$69m ÷ (US$759m – US$109m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Novanta has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for Novanta

Does Novanta Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Novanta’s ROCE is around the 11% average reported by the Electronic industry. Independently of how Novanta compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

NasdaqGS:NOVT Past Revenue and Net Income, February 21st 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.

How Novanta’s Current Liabilities Impact 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Novanta has total liabilities of US$109m and total assets of US$759m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 14% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Novanta’s ROCE

With that in mind, Novanta’s ROCE appears pretty good. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Novanta. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.