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Should You Care About Casey's General Stores, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:CASY) Investment Potential?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Casey's General Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:CASY) 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. 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.

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

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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.'

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Casey's General Stores:

0.099 = US$308m ÷ (US$3.6b - US$464m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2019.)

Therefore, Casey's General Stores has an ROCE of 9.9%.

View our latest analysis for Casey's General Stores

Is Casey's General Stores's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Casey's General Stores's ROCE appears to be around the 9.9% average of the Consumer Retailing industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Casey's General Stores's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

Casey's General Stores's current ROCE of 9.9% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 17%, 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NasdaqGS:CASY Past Revenue and Net Income, April 11th 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 misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. 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 Casey's General Stores.

Casey's General Stores's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Casey's General Stores has total assets of US$3.6b and current liabilities of US$464m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Casey's General Stores's ROCE

If Casey's General Stores continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Casey's General Stores. 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.