What Can We Make Of Burberry Group plc’s (LON:BRBY) High Return On Capital?

Today we are going to look at Burberry Group plc (LON:BRBY) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.

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 Burberry Group:

0.21 = UK£471m ÷ (UK£3.2b – UK£912m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Burberry Group has an ROCE of 21%.

View our latest analysis for Burberry Group

Does Burberry Group Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Burberry Group’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 14% 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, Burberry Group’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Burberry Group’s past growth compares to other companies.

LSE:BRBY Past Revenue and Net Income May 10th 2020
LSE:BRBY Past Revenue and Net Income May 10th 2020

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Burberry Group’s 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.

Burberry Group has total assets of UK£3.2b and current liabilities of UK£912m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 29% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Burberry Group’s ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Burberry Group look quite interesting. Burberry Group 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.