Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Today we’ll evaluate Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is 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. 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?

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 Intuit:

0.42 = US$1.9b ÷ (US$6.2b – US$1.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2019.)

Therefore, Intuit has an ROCE of 42%.

Check out our latest analysis for Intuit

Does Intuit Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Intuit’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.7% average in the Software 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. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Intuit’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

Intuit’s current ROCE of 42% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 69%, 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. The image below shows how Intuit’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NasdaqGS:INTU Past Revenue and Net Income, February 6th 2020
NasdaqGS:INTU Past Revenue and Net Income, February 6th 2020

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Intuit’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Intuit has current liabilities of US$1.8b and total assets of US$6.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 28% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Intuit’s ROCE

, There might be better investments than Intuit out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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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.

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. Thank you for reading.