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Is Duluth Holdings Inc.’s (NASDAQ:DLTH) 14% ROCE Any Good?

Kelly Murphy

Today we are going to look at Duluth Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTH) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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 Duluth Holdings:

0.14 = US$37m ÷ (US$325m – US$65m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2018.)

So, Duluth Holdings has an ROCE of 14%.

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Does Duluth Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Duluth Holdings’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.1% average in the Online Retail industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Duluth Holdings’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Duluth Holdings’s current ROCE of 14% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 35% ROCE. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges.

NASDAQGS:DLTH Last Perf January 30th 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Duluth Holdings.

How Duluth Holdings’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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Duluth Holdings has total assets of US$325m and current liabilities of US$65m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 20% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Duluth Holdings’s ROCE

Overall, Duluth Holdings has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. But note: Duluth Holdings may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.