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Five Below, Inc. (NASDAQ:FIVE) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Five Below, Inc. (NASDAQ:FIVE) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. 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 Five Below:

0.27 = US$187m ÷ (US$952m - US$253m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2019.)

Therefore, Five Below has an ROCE of 27%.

See our latest analysis for Five Below

Is Five Below's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Five Below's ROCE is meaningfully higher 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. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Five Below's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

NasdaqGS:FIVE Past Revenue and Net Income, May 3rd 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Five Below.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Five Below's 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 the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Five Below has total assets of US$952m and current liabilities of US$253m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 27% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

Our Take On Five Below's ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Five Below look quite interesting. There might be better investments than Five Below out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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.