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Is Burberry Group plc’s (LON:BRBY) 26% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Burberry Group plc (LON:BRBY) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. 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'.

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 Burberry Group:

0.26 = UK£445m ÷ (UK£2.3b - UK£640m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Burberry Group has an ROCE of 26%.

Check out our latest analysis for Burberry Group

Does Burberry Group Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Burberry Group's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.1% average in the Luxury industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Burberry Group's ROCE is currently very good.

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

LSE:BRBY Past Revenue and Net Income, September 7th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Burberry Group.

Do Burberry Group'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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Burberry Group has total liabilities of UK£640m and total assets of UK£2.3b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 27% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

Our Take On Burberry Group's ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, Burberry Group may be worth a closer look. Burberry Group 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.

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.