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Evaluating Expedia Group, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:EXPE) Investments In Its Business

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Expedia Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPE) 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 of all, we'll work out how to 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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'.

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 Expedia Group:

0.089 = US$962m ÷ (US$21b - US$11b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Expedia Group has an ROCE of 8.9%.

View our latest analysis for Expedia Group

Is Expedia Group's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Expedia Group's ROCE is around the 7.7% average reported by the Online Retail industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Expedia Group'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.

Our data shows that Expedia Group currently has an ROCE of 8.9%, compared to its ROCE of 5.1% 3 years ago. This makes us think the business might be improving. The image below shows how Expedia Group's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NasdaqGS:EXPE Past Revenue and Net Income, January 23rd 2020

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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Expedia Group.

How Expedia Group'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. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Expedia Group has total assets of US$21b and current liabilities of US$11b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 49% of its total assets. Expedia Group has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Expedia Group's ROCE

Despite this, its ROCE is still mediocre, and you may find more appealing investments elsewhere. 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.

Expedia Group is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.