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Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc. (NYSE:ARCO) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc. (NYSE:ARCO) 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. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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 Arcos Dorados Holdings:

0.12 = US$134m ÷ (US$1.6b - US$493m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Arcos Dorados Holdings has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for Arcos Dorados Holdings

Does Arcos Dorados Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Arcos Dorados Holdings's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 10% average in the Hospitality industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how Arcos Dorados Holdings compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

NYSE:ARCO Past Revenue and Net Income, May 2nd 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Arcos Dorados Holdings'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. 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.

Arcos Dorados Holdings has total assets of US$1.6b and current liabilities of US$493m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 31% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, Arcos Dorados Holdings's ROCE is boosted somewhat.

Our Take On Arcos Dorados Holdings's ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it's worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. There might be better investments than Arcos Dorados Holdings 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.

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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.