Should You Like PetMed Express, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:PETS) High Return On Capital Employed?

Today we’ll look at PetMed Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETS) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’

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 PetMed Express:

0.29 = US$37m ÷ (US$145m – US$20m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, PetMed Express has an ROCE of 29%.

Check out our latest analysis for PetMed Express

Does PetMed Express Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. PetMed Express’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 8.4% average in the Online Retail industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, PetMed Express’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

NasdaqGS:PETS Past Revenue and Net Income, August 21st 2019
NasdaqGS:PETS Past Revenue and Net Income, August 21st 2019

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 only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do PetMed Express’s Current Liabilities Skew 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. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

PetMed Express has total liabilities of US$20m and total assets of US$145m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 14% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

The Bottom Line On PetMed Express’s ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making PetMed Express look quite interesting. PetMed Express shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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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.

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. Thank you for reading.