How Good Is Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (NYSE:WMS) At Creating Shareholder Value?

Today we’ll evaluate Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (NYSE:WMS) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed 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.’

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 Advanced Drainage Systems:

0.15 = US$126m ÷ (US$1.0b – US$190m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Advanced Drainage Systems has an ROCE of 15%.

Check out our latest analysis for Advanced Drainage Systems

Does Advanced Drainage Systems Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Advanced Drainage Systems’s ROCE appears to be around the 15% average of the Building industry. Regardless of where Advanced Drainage Systems sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

Our data shows that Advanced Drainage Systems currently has an ROCE of 15%, compared to its ROCE of 10.0% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

NYSE:WMS Past Revenue and Net Income, March 18th 2019
NYSE:WMS Past Revenue and Net Income, March 18th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 Advanced Drainage Systems.

Advanced Drainage Systems’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Advanced Drainage Systems has total assets of US$1.0b and current liabilities of US$190m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Advanced Drainage Systems’s ROCE

Overall, Advanced Drainage Systems has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. 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).

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.