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Does Secoo Holding Limited’s (NASDAQ:SECO) ROCE Reflect Well On The Business?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Secoo Holding Limited (NASDAQ:SECO) 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.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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. 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 Secoo Holding:

0.082 = CN¥219m ÷ (CN¥3.8b - CN¥1.1b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Secoo Holding has an ROCE of 8.2%.

View our latest analysis for Secoo Holding

Is Secoo Holding's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Secoo Holding's ROCE is around the 9.9% average reported by the Online Retail industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Secoo Holding'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.

Secoo Holding delivered an ROCE of 8.2%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. That implies the business has been improving.

NasdaqGM:SECO Past Revenue and Net Income, June 12th 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Secoo Holding.

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

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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.

Secoo Holding has total liabilities of CN¥1.1b and total assets of CN¥3.8b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 29% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Secoo Holding's ROCE

If Secoo Holding continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. You might be able to find a better investment than Secoo Holding. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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

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.