Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

Today we’ll evaluate Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBRL) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the 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. 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’.

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 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store:

0.17 = US$286m ÷ (US$2.1b – US$443m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to November 2019.)

So, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has an ROCE of 17%.

Check out our latest analysis for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Is Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, we find that Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 8.5% average in the Hospitality industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Cracker Barrel Old Country Store sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

We can see that, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store currently has an ROCE of 17%, less than the 25% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:CBRL Past Revenue and Net Income, January 9th 2020
NasdaqGS:CBRL Past Revenue and Net Income, January 9th 2020

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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has total assets of US$2.1b and current liabilities of US$443m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 21% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store could be worth a closer look. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 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.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.