What Can We Make Of National Beverage Corp.’s (NASDAQ:FIZZ) High Return On Capital?

Today we are going to look at National Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ:FIZZ) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. 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 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. 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?

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 National Beverage:

0.48 = US$204m ÷ (US$544m – US$104m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2018.)

So, National Beverage has an ROCE of 48%.

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Is National Beverage’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In our analysis, National Beverage’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.1% average in the Beverage industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, National Beverage’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

NasdaqGS:FIZZ Last Perf January 17th 19
NasdaqGS:FIZZ Last Perf January 17th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for National Beverage.

National Beverage’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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.

National Beverage has total liabilities of US$104m and total assets of US$544m. 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 National Beverage’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, National Beverage may 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.