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Why DENTSPLY SIRONA Inc.’s (NASDAQ:XRAY) Return On Capital Employed Might Be A Concern

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate DENTSPLY SIRONA Inc. (NASDAQ:XRAY) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 DENTSPLY SIRONA:

0.043 = US$329m ÷ (US$8.6b - US$881m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, DENTSPLY SIRONA has an ROCE of 4.3%.

View our latest analysis for DENTSPLY SIRONA

Is DENTSPLY SIRONA's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, DENTSPLY SIRONA's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 10.0% average in the Medical Equipment industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Independently of how DENTSPLY SIRONA compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.7% available in government bonds. There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

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

NasdaqGS:XRAY Past Revenue and Net Income, October 10th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. 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 DENTSPLY SIRONA.

Do DENTSPLY SIRONA's Current Liabilities Skew 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. 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.

DENTSPLY SIRONA has total liabilities of US$881m and total assets of US$8.6b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 10% of its total assets. This is not a high level of current liabilities, which would not boost the ROCE by much.

Our Take On DENTSPLY SIRONA's ROCE

While that is good to see, DENTSPLY SIRONA has a low ROCE and does not look attractive in this analysis. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.