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Why We Like Edwards Lifesciences Corporation’s (NYSE:EW) 23% Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Edwards Lifesciences Corporation (NYSE:EW) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

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

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. 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.'

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 Edwards Lifesciences:

0.23 = US$1.1b ÷ (US$5.5b - US$647m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Edwards Lifesciences has an ROCE of 23%.

View our latest analysis for Edwards Lifesciences

Does Edwards Lifesciences Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Edwards Lifesciences's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 10% average in the Medical Equipment industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Edwards Lifesciences's ROCE is currently very good.

NYSE:EW Past Revenue and Net Income, May 29th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Edwards Lifesciences.

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

Edwards Lifesciences has total liabilities of US$647m and total assets of US$5.5b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 12% 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 Edwards Lifesciences's ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, Edwards Lifesciences may be worth a closer look. Edwards Lifesciences 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.