Why You Should Like Avast Plc’s (LON:AVST) ROCE

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Today we are going to look at Avast Plc (LON:AVST) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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 up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Avast:

0.11 = US$249m ÷ (US$2.9b – US$572m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Avast has an ROCE of 11%.

Check out our latest analysis for Avast

Does Avast Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Avast’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 8.8% average in the Software industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of where Avast sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

LSE:AVST Past Revenue and Net Income, July 2nd 2019
LSE:AVST Past Revenue and Net Income, July 2nd 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Avast.

Avast’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 the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Avast has total liabilities of US$572m and total assets of US$2.9b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 20% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Avast’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Avast could be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than Avast out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.