In some cases, the annual depreciation and amortization expense is a lot less than the average five- or ten-year capex.#
This is the case in asset intensive companies.
When you see this, you have two good reasons against investing in them. It should not be surprising that these companies
- have very poor free cash flow track records and
- modest ROCE performances.
Avoid these companies, unless they have been able to produce a good ROCE whilst investing heavily.
2. Where depreciation and amortization >>> capex.
Normally, you should be suspicious of companies with this kind of behaviour.
Is this a company that has been under-investing?
If yes, this could hurt its ability to make more money in the future.
However, you need to study the company's history on this issue to make sure that it is not under-investing.
Some companies have to spread the cost of things over their useful lives, (for example the costs of a TV channel such as licences, customer contracts, software and programme libraries), which don't need to be matched by outflows of cash every year.
# As a rough rule of thumb, if the five-year capex figure is higher than the ten-year average, you should use the higher figure.