Today we are going to look at Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) 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. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.
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 Boston Scientific:
0.079 = US$1.8b ÷ (US$27b - US$4.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)
Therefore, Boston Scientific has an ROCE of 7.9%.
Is Boston Scientific's ROCE Good?
ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Boston Scientific's ROCE appears to be around the 8.9% average of the Medical Equipment industry. Separate from how Boston Scientific 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.
You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Boston Scientific's past growth compares to other companies.
It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Boston Scientific.
Boston Scientific's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE
Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.
Boston Scientific has total liabilities of US$4.3b and total assets of US$27b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 16% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.
What We Can Learn From Boston Scientific's ROCE
That said, Boston Scientific's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Boston Scientific. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
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 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.
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