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The Boston Beer Company, Inc. (NYSE:SAM) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at The Boston Beer Company, Inc. (NYSE:SAM) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Boston Beer Company:

0.23 = US$143m ÷ (US$813m - US$188m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Boston Beer Company has an ROCE of 23%.

View our latest analysis for Boston Beer Company

Is Boston Beer Company's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Boston Beer Company's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 11% average in the Beverage industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Boston Beer Company's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

The image below shows how Boston Beer Company's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:SAM Past Revenue and Net Income, July 29th 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 only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Boston Beer Company.

Do Boston Beer Company's Current Liabilities Skew 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Boston Beer Company has total assets of US$813m and current liabilities of US$188m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 23% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Boston Beer Company's ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Boston Beer Company could be worthy of further investigation. Boston Beer Company looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

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.