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Why We’re Not Impressed By Avnet, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AVT) 9.5% ROCE

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Avnet, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVT) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its 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?

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 Avnet:

0.095 = US$644m ÷ (US$9.1b - US$2.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Avnet has an ROCE of 9.5%.

Check out our latest analysis for Avnet

Is Avnet's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In this analysis, Avnet's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 12% average reported by the Electronic industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Avnet's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

You can see in the image below how Avnet's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqGS:AVT Past Revenue and Net Income, July 11th 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Avnet.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Avnet's ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Avnet has total liabilities of US$2.3b and total assets of US$9.1b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 26% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Avnet's ROCE

If Avnet continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. You might be able to find a better investment than Avnet. 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).

I will like Avnet better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.