Nathan’s Famous, Inc. (NASDAQ:NATH) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

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Today we’ll evaluate Nathan’s Famous, Inc. (NASDAQ:NATH) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. 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. 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 Nathan’s Famous:

0.34 = US$27m ÷ (US$91m – US$13m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Nathan’s Famous has an ROCE of 34%.

Check out our latest analysis for Nathan’s Famous

Is Nathan’s Famous’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Nathan’s Famous’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.4% average in the Hospitality industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Nathan’s Famous’s ROCE is currently very good.

NasdaqGS:NATH Past Revenue and Net Income, June 7th 2019
NasdaqGS:NATH Past Revenue and Net Income, June 7th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. If Nathan’s Famous is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Nathan’s Famous’s ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. 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.

Nathan’s Famous has total assets of US$91m and current liabilities of US$13m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 14% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Nathan’s Famous’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, Nathan’s Famous may be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than Nathan’s Famous out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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.