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Should You Worry About Altra Industrial Motion Corp.’s (NASDAQ:AIMC) ROCE?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at Altra Industrial Motion Corp. (NASDAQ:AIMC) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. 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 Altra Industrial Motion:

0.047 = US$189m ÷ (US$4.4b - US$347m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Altra Industrial Motion has an ROCE of 4.7%.

See our latest analysis for Altra Industrial Motion

Does Altra Industrial Motion Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In this analysis, Altra Industrial Motion's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 11% average reported by the Machinery industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Independently of how Altra Industrial Motion 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.

Altra Industrial Motion's current ROCE of 4.7% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 13% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NasdaqGS:AIMC Past Revenue and Net Income, May 7th 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Altra Industrial Motion.

Do Altra Industrial Motion's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Altra Industrial Motion has total liabilities of US$347m and total assets of US$4.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 7.9% of its total assets. Altra Industrial Motion has a low level of current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its already low ROCE.

Our Take On Altra Industrial Motion's ROCE

Nevertheless, there are potentially more attractive companies to invest in. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Altra Industrial Motion. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

I will like Altra Industrial Motion 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.