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Dunelm Group plc (LON:DNLM) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Tammie Asher

Today we’ll evaluate Dunelm Group plc (LON:DNLM) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of 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. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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.’

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Dunelm Group:

0.33 = UK£105m ÷ (UK£425m – UK£110m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

Therefore, Dunelm Group has an ROCE of 33%.

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Is Dunelm Group’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Dunelm Group’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 13% average in the Specialty Retail industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Dunelm Group’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

Dunelm Group’s current ROCE of 33% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 51% ROCE. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges.

LSE:DNLM Last Perf January 31st 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Dunelm Group’s 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 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Dunelm Group has total liabilities of UK£110m and total assets of UK£425m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 26% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Dunelm Group’s ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Dunelm Group look quite interesting. 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.

I will like Dunelm Group better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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.