How Good Is Anthem, Inc. (NYSE:ANTM) At Creating Shareholder Value?

Today we are going to look at Anthem, Inc. (NYSE:ANTM) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

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

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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?

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 Anthem:

0.11 = US$6.2b ÷ (US$78b – US$23b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Anthem has an ROCE of 11%.

View our latest analysis for Anthem

Is Anthem’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Anthem’s ROCE is around the 11% average reported by the Healthcare industry. Independently of how Anthem compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

The image below shows how Anthem’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:ANTM Past Revenue and Net Income, November 29th 2019
NYSE:ANTM Past Revenue and Net Income, November 29th 2019

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. 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 Anthem’s ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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.

Anthem has total assets of US$78b and current liabilities of US$23b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 30% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Anthem’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Anthem could be worth a closer look. Anthem 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.

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

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.