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A Close Look At Rollins, Inc.’s (NYSE:ROL) 33% ROCE

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Rollins, Inc. (NYSE:ROL) 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, 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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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?

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 Rollins:

0.33 = US$306m ÷ (US$1.3b - US$353m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Rollins has an ROCE of 33%.

See our latest analysis for Rollins

Does Rollins Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In our analysis, Rollins's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 10% average in the Commercial 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. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Rollins's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

NYSE:ROL Past Revenue and Net Income, May 2nd 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Rollins.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Rollins's ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Rollins has total assets of US$1.3b and current liabilities of US$353m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 28% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Rollins's ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Rollins look quite interesting. Rollins 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.

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.