Is Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) Creating Value For Shareholders?

Today we’ll look at Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we’ll go over how we 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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 Zumiez:

0.10 = US$70m ÷ (US$882m – US$181m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to August 2019.)

Therefore, Zumiez has an ROCE of 10%.

See our latest analysis for Zumiez

Is Zumiez’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Zumiez’s ROCE is around the 10% average reported by the Specialty Retail industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Zumiez’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

Take a look at the image below to see how Zumiez’s past growth compares to the average in its industry.

NasdaqGS:ZUMZ Past Revenue and Net Income, September 20th 2019
NasdaqGS:ZUMZ Past Revenue and Net Income, September 20th 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Zumiez.

Do Zumiez’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Zumiez has total liabilities of US$181m and total assets of US$882m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 21% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Zumiez’s ROCE

If Zumiez continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Zumiez. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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

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.