Is Hostelworld Group Plc (LON:HSW) Struggling With Its 6.1% Return On Capital Employed?

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

Today we are going to look at Hostelworld Group Plc (LON:HSW) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed 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 Hostelworld Group:

0.061 = €8.3m ÷ (€150m – €13m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Hostelworld Group has an ROCE of 6.1%.

See our latest analysis for Hostelworld Group

Is Hostelworld Group’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Hostelworld Group’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 19% average in the Online Retail industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Hostelworld Group’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

LSE:HSW Past Revenue and Net Income, June 18th 2019
LSE:HSW Past Revenue and Net Income, June 18th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Hostelworld Group.

Do Hostelworld Group’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. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Hostelworld Group has total assets of €150m and current liabilities of €13m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 8.9% of its total assets. Hostelworld Group reports few current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its unremarkable ROCE.

Our Take On Hostelworld Group’s ROCE

If performance improves, then Hostelworld Group may be an OK investment, especially at the right valuation. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

I will like Hostelworld Group better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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.