Should You Like Six Flags Entertainment Corporation’s (NYSE:SIX) High Return On Capital Employed?

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Today we’ll evaluate Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE:SIX) 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 up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

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. 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?

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 Six Flags Entertainment:

0.23 = US$512m ÷ (US$2.7b – US$531m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Six Flags Entertainment has an ROCE of 23%.

Check out our latest analysis for Six Flags Entertainment

Is Six Flags Entertainment’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Six Flags Entertainment’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.4% average in the Hospitality 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. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Six Flags Entertainment’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

NYSE:SIX Past Revenue and Net Income, July 1st 2019
NYSE:SIX Past Revenue and Net Income, July 1st 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 Six Flags Entertainment.

How Six Flags Entertainment’s Current Liabilities Impact 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Six Flags Entertainment has total assets of US$2.7b and current liabilities of US$531m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Six Flags Entertainment’s ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Six Flags Entertainment look quite interesting. There might be better investments than Six Flags Entertainment 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.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.