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Why Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Inc.’s (NYSE:SPR) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:SPR) 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.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Spirit AeroSystems Holdings:

0.20 = US$954m ÷ (US$6.7b - US$1.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Spirit AeroSystems Holdings has an ROCE of 20%.

See our latest analysis for Spirit AeroSystems Holdings

Does Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In our analysis, Spirit AeroSystems Holdings's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 11% average in the Aerospace & Defense industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Spirit AeroSystems Holdings sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

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

NYSE:SPR Past Revenue and Net Income, December 13th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. 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 Spirit AeroSystems Holdings.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Spirit AeroSystems Holdings'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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Spirit AeroSystems Holdings has total liabilities of US$1.9b and total assets of US$6.7b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 28% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Spirit AeroSystems Holdings's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Spirit AeroSystems Holdings could be worth a closer look. Spirit AeroSystems Holdings shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.