Should You Like The Home Depot, Inc.’s (NYSE:HD) High Return On Capital Employed?

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Today we’ll look at The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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’.

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 Home Depot:

0.50 = US$16b ÷ (US$52b – US$20b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to May 2019.)

So, Home Depot has an ROCE of 50%.

See our latest analysis for Home Depot

Does Home Depot Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Home Depot’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 11% average in the Specialty Retail 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. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Home Depot’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

NYSE:HD Past Revenue and Net Income, July 2nd 2019
NYSE:HD Past Revenue and Net Income, July 2nd 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Home Depot.

Home Depot’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. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Home Depot has total liabilities of US$20b and total assets of US$52b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 38% of its total assets. Home Depot has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

Our Take On Home Depot’s ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. There might be better investments than Home Depot 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.