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Is Autohome Inc.’s (NYSE:ATHM) 22% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Autohome Inc. (NYSE:ATHM) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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. 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 Autohome:

0.22 = CN¥3.0b ÷ (CN¥18b - CN¥3.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Autohome has an ROCE of 22%.

View our latest analysis for Autohome

Does Autohome Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Autohome's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.1% average in the Interactive Media and Services 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. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Autohome's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Autohome's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:ATHM Past Revenue and Net Income, November 26th 2019

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

Autohome's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Autohome has total liabilities of CN¥3.7b and total assets of CN¥18b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 21% of its total assets. The fairly low level of current liabilities won't have much impact on the already great ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Autohome's ROCE

, Autohome shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.