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Does Duluth Holdings Inc.’s (NASDAQ:DLTH) ROCE Reflect Well On The Business?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Duluth Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTH) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from 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. 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 Duluth Holdings:

0.078 = US$28m ÷ (US$419m - US$63m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to May 2019.)

Therefore, Duluth Holdings has an ROCE of 7.8%.

Check out our latest analysis for Duluth Holdings

Is Duluth Holdings's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Duluth Holdings's ROCE appears to be around the 8.4% average of the Online Retail industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Duluth Holdings'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.

Duluth Holdings's current ROCE of 7.8% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 33% ROCE. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Duluth Holdings's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:DLTH Past Revenue and Net Income, August 27th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Duluth Holdings.

Do Duluth Holdings's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Duluth Holdings has total assets of US$419m and current liabilities of US$63m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 15% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Duluth Holdings's ROCE

That said, Duluth Holdings's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.