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Why We Like Arista Networks, Inc.’s (NYSE:ANET) 28% Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Arista Networks, Inc. (NYSE:ANET) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE 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. 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 Arista Networks:

0.28 = US$682m ÷ (US$3.1b - US$607m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Arista Networks has an ROCE of 28%.

See our latest analysis for Arista Networks

Is Arista Networks's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Arista Networks's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 8.2% average in the Communications industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Arista Networks's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

Our data shows that Arista Networks currently has an ROCE of 28%, compared to its ROCE of 16% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

NYSE:ANET Past Revenue and Net Income, April 3rd 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Arista Networks.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Arista Networks's 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 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Arista Networks has total liabilities of US$607m and total assets of US$3.1b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 20% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Arista Networks's ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Arista Networks could be worthy of further investigation. You might be able to find a better buy than Arista Networks. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.