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Why NXP Semiconductors N.V.’s (NASDAQ:NXPI) Return On Capital Employed Might Be A Concern

Will Harmon

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Today we’ll evaluate NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ:NXPI) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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’.

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 NXP Semiconductors:

0.047 = US$850m ÷ (US$22b – US$3.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, NXP Semiconductors has an ROCE of 4.7%.

Check out our latest analysis for NXP Semiconductors

Is NXP Semiconductors’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, NXP Semiconductors’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 14% average in the Semiconductor 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 NXP Semiconductors compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.7% available in government bonds. Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

NasdaqGS:NXPI Past Revenue and Net Income, February 19th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect NXP Semiconductors’s ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

NXP Semiconductors has total assets of US$22b and current liabilities of US$3.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 16% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

What We Can Learn From NXP Semiconductors’s ROCE

While that is good to see, NXP Semiconductors has a low ROCE and does not look attractive in this analysis. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than NXP Semiconductors. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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. On rare occasion, data errors may occur. Thank you for reading.