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Is frontdoor, inc.’s (NASDAQ:FTDR) 31% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at frontdoor, inc. (NASDAQ:FTDR) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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'.

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 frontdoor:

0.31 = US$213m ÷ (US$1.0b - US$345m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, frontdoor has an ROCE of 31%.

View our latest analysis for frontdoor

Does frontdoor Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. frontdoor's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 11% average in the Consumer Services industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, frontdoor's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

NasdaqGS:FTDR Past Revenue and Net Income, April 5th 2019

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

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

frontdoor has total assets of US$1.0b and current liabilities of US$345m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 33% of its total assets. frontdoor has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From frontdoor's ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. 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.