Helen of Troy Limited (NASDAQ:HELE) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

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Today we’ll look at Helen of Troy Limited (NASDAQ:HELE) 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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.’

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Helen of Troy:

0.15 = US$190m ÷ (US$1.7b – US$335m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to November 2018.)

So, Helen of Troy has an ROCE of 15%.

See our latest analysis for Helen of Troy

Is Helen of Troy’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Helen of Troy’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 11% average in the Consumer Durables industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Separate from Helen of Troy’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

NASDAQGS:HELE Last Perf February 11th 19
NASDAQGS:HELE Last Perf February 11th 19

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Helen of Troy.

Do Helen of Troy’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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.

Helen of Troy has total assets of US$1.7b and current liabilities of US$335m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Helen of Troy’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Helen of Troy could be worth a closer look. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.