Is Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE:FLO) Creating Value For Shareholders?

Today we are going to look at Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE:FLO) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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 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.

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. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 Flowers Foods:

0.10 = US$275m ÷ (US$3.2b – US$528m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

Therefore, Flowers Foods has an ROCE of 10%.

View our latest analysis for Flowers Foods

Is Flowers Foods’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Flowers Foods’s ROCE appears to be around the 8.8% average of the Food industry. Independently of how Flowers Foods compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

The image below shows how Flowers Foods’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:FLO Past Revenue and Net Income April 6th 2020
NYSE:FLO Past Revenue and Net Income April 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Flowers Foods.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Flowers Foods’s 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Flowers Foods has total assets of US$3.2b and current liabilities of US$528m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 17% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Flowers Foods’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Flowers Foods could be worth a closer look. Flowers Foods looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.