Are Target Corporation’s (NYSE:TGT) Returns Worth Your While?

Today we are going to look at Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Target:

0.16 = US$4.2b ÷ (US$41b – US$15b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2019.)

Therefore, Target has an ROCE of 16%.

See our latest analysis for Target

Is Target’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Target’s ROCE appears to be around the 16% average of the Multiline Retail industry. Independently of how Target compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

NYSE:TGT Past Revenue and Net Income, April 9th 2019
NYSE:TGT Past Revenue and Net Income, April 9th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. 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 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 Target.

Do Target’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Target has total liabilities of US$15b and total assets of US$41b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 36% of its total assets. Target has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost the ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Target’s ROCE

With a decent ROCE, the company could be interesting, but remember that the level of current liabilities make the ROCE look better. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Target. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.