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Has Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. (NYSE:FBHS) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Fortune Brands Home & Security, Inc. (NYSE:FBHS) 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. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Fortune Brands Home & Security:

0.15 = US$740m ÷ (US$6.3b - US$1.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Fortune Brands Home & Security has an ROCE of 15%.

See our latest analysis for Fortune Brands Home & Security

Is Fortune Brands Home & Security's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. It appears that Fortune Brands Home & Security's ROCE is fairly close to the Building industry average of 13%. Regardless of where Fortune Brands Home & Security sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Fortune Brands Home & Security's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:FBHS Past Revenue and Net Income, January 1st 2020

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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 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 Fortune Brands Home & Security.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Fortune Brands Home & Security's ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Fortune Brands Home & Security has total liabilities of US$1.4b and total assets of US$6.3b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Fortune Brands Home & Security's ROCE

Overall, Fortune Brands Home & Security has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Fortune Brands Home & Security shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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.