Hugo Boss AG (FRA:BOSS) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Today we’ll evaluate Hugo Boss AG (FRA:BOSS) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. 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 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. 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’.

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 Hugo Boss:

0.27 = €357m ÷ (€1.8b – €562m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Hugo Boss has an ROCE of 27%.

Check out our latest analysis for Hugo Boss

Is Hugo Boss’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Hugo Boss’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 15% average in the Luxury industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Hugo Boss’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

As we can see, Hugo Boss currently has an ROCE of 27%, less than the 41% it reported 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges.

DB:BOSS Last Perf December 11th 18
DB:BOSS Last Perf December 11th 18

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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Hugo Boss.

How Hugo Boss’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Hugo Boss has total assets of €1.8b and current liabilities of €562m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 32% of its total assets.

The Bottom Line On Hugo Boss’s ROCE

A medium level of current liabilities boosts Hugo Boss’s ROCE somewhat. Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for 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 would prefer check out another company — one with potentially superior financials — then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.