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A Close Look At Hollywood Bowl Group plc’s (LON:BOWL) 20% ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Hollywood Bowl Group plc (LON:BOWL) 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.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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 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. 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 Hollywood Bowl Group:

0.20 = UK£27m ÷ (UK£155m - UK£22m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Hollywood Bowl Group has an ROCE of 20%.

Check out our latest analysis for Hollywood Bowl Group

Is Hollywood Bowl Group's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Hollywood Bowl Group's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 7.6% average in the Hospitality 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, Hollywood Bowl Group's ROCE is currently very good.

In our analysis, Hollywood Bowl Group's ROCE appears to be 20%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 14%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. The image below shows how Hollywood Bowl Group's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

LSE:BOWL Past Revenue and Net Income, August 31st 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Hollywood Bowl Group.

Do Hollywood Bowl Group's Current Liabilities Skew 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.

Hollywood Bowl Group has total assets of UK£155m and current liabilities of UK£22m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 14% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Hollywood Bowl Group's ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Hollywood Bowl Group look quite interesting. Hollywood Bowl 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.