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Does Extended Stay America, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:STAY) ROCE Reflect Well On The Business?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Extended Stay America, Inc. (NASDAQ:STAY) 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, 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 measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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'.

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 Extended Stay America:

0.087 = US$343m ÷ (US$4.2b - US$233m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Extended Stay America has an ROCE of 8.7%.

See our latest analysis for Extended Stay America

Does Extended Stay America Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Extended Stay America's ROCE is around the 8.5% average reported by the Hospitality industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Extended Stay America's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

You can see in the image below how Extended Stay America's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqGS:STAY Past Revenue and Net Income, January 16th 2020

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Extended Stay America.

Do Extended Stay America's Current Liabilities Skew Its 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 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.

Extended Stay America has total assets of US$4.2b and current liabilities of US$233m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 5.6% of its total assets. With low levels of current liabilities, at least Extended Stay America's mediocre ROCE is not unduly boosted.

What We Can Learn From Extended Stay America's ROCE

Based on this information, Extended Stay America appears to be a mediocre business. 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).

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do 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.