Why We Like Vicor Corporation’s (NASDAQ:VICR) 17% Return On Capital Employed

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Today we’ll evaluate Vicor Corporation (NASDAQ:VICR) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Vicor:

0.17 = US$33m ÷ (US$225m – US$31m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Vicor has an ROCE of 17%.

Check out our latest analysis for Vicor

Is Vicor’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, we find that Vicor’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 10% average in the Electrical industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Separate from Vicor’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Vicor reported an ROCE of 17% — better than 3 years ago, when the company didn’t make a profit. That suggests the business has returned to profitability.

NasdaqGS:VICR Past Revenue and Net Income, May 28th 2019
NasdaqGS:VICR Past Revenue and Net Income, May 28th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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 only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Vicor.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Vicor’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. 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.

Vicor has total assets of US$225m and current liabilities of US$31m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 14% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Vicor’s ROCE

With that in mind, Vicor’s ROCE appears pretty good. Vicor looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

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

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.