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Does Etsy, Inc. (NASDAQ:ETSY) Create Value For Shareholders?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Etsy, Inc. (NASDAQ:ETSY) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

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. 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?

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 Etsy:

0.077 = US$103m ÷ (US$1.5b - US$155m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Etsy has an ROCE of 7.7%.

Check out our latest analysis for Etsy

Is Etsy's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Etsy's ROCE appears to be around the 7.7% average of the Online Retail industry. Separate from how Etsy stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

We can see that, Etsy currently has an ROCE of 7.7% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 4.4%. This makes us think the business might be improving. The image below shows how Etsy's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NasdaqGS:ETSY Past Revenue and Net Income, February 1st 2020

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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Etsy's Current Liabilities Impact 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Etsy has total assets of US$1.5b and current liabilities of US$155m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 10% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Etsy's ROCE

With that in mind, we're not overly impressed with Etsy's ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Etsy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.