Today we are going to look at Lattice Semiconductor Corporation (NASDAQ:LSCC) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.
First, we’ll go over how we 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.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’
So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?
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 Lattice Semiconductor:
0.10 = US$56m ÷ (US$617m – US$83m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)
Therefore, Lattice Semiconductor has an ROCE of 10%.
Is Lattice Semiconductor’s ROCE Good?
ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Lattice Semiconductor’s ROCE is around the 10% average reported by the Semiconductor industry. Separate from how Lattice Semiconductor stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.
Lattice Semiconductor has an ROCE of 10%, but it didn’t have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.
When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Lattice Semiconductor.
Lattice Semiconductor’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE
Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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.
Lattice Semiconductor has total liabilities of US$83m and total assets of US$617m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 13% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.
What We Can Learn From Lattice Semiconductor’s ROCE
That said, Lattice Semiconductor’s ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.