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Evaluating 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FLWS) Investments In Its Business

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. (NASDAQ:FLWS) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

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

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 1-800-FLOWERS.COM:

0.10 = US$49m ÷ (US$685m - US$204m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has an ROCE of 10%.

Check out our latest analysis for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM

Does 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. It appears that 1-800-FLOWERS.COM's ROCE is fairly close to the Online Retail industry average of 10%. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

NasdaqGS:FLWS Past Revenue and Net Income, April 3rd 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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 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 1-800-FLOWERS.COM.

How 1-800-FLOWERS.COM's Current Liabilities Impact Its 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

1-800-FLOWERS.COM has total liabilities of US$204m and total assets of US$685m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 30% 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 1-800-FLOWERS.COM's ROCE

With that in mind, we're not overly impressed with 1-800-FLOWERS.COM's ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.