Are Dart Group PLC’s (LON:DTG) Returns On Investment Worth Your While?

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Today we’ll evaluate Dart Group PLC (LON:DTG) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

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. 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’.

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 Dart Group:

0.15 = UK£272m ÷ (UK£2.9b – UK£1.1b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, Dart Group has an ROCE of 15%.

Check out our latest analysis for Dart Group

Is Dart Group’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Dart Group’s ROCE appears to be around the 15% average of the Airlines industry. Separate from Dart Group’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Dart Group’s current ROCE of 15% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 35% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

AIM:DTG Past Revenue and Net Income, June 26th 2019
AIM:DTG Past Revenue and Net Income, June 26th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Dart Group.

Do Dart Group’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Dart Group has total liabilities of UK£1.1b and total assets of UK£2.9b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 38% of its total assets. Dart Group has a middling amount of current liabilities, increasing its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Dart Group’s ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it’s worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. Dart 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.

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.