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Does Thor Industries, Inc.’s (NYSE:THO) ROCE Reflect Well On The Business?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Thor Industries, Inc. (NYSE:THO) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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'.

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 Thor Industries:

0.10 = US$423m ÷ (US$5.7b - US$1.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2019.)

Therefore, Thor Industries has an ROCE of 10%.

See our latest analysis for Thor Industries

Does Thor Industries Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Thor Industries's ROCE is around the 9.5% average reported by the Auto industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Thor Industries'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.

Thor Industries's current ROCE of 10% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 23% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. You can see in the image below how Thor Industries's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:THO Past Revenue and Net Income, October 10th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Thor Industries's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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.

Thor Industries has total liabilities of US$1.4b and total assets of US$5.7b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 26% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Thor Industries's ROCE

If Thor Industries continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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.