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Should Haverty Furniture Companies, Inc.’s (NYSE:HVT) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Haverty Furniture Companies, Inc. (NYSE:HVT) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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'.

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 Haverty Furniture Companies:

0.082 = US$38m ÷ (US$575m - US$112m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Haverty Furniture Companies has an ROCE of 8.2%.

See our latest analysis for Haverty Furniture Companies

Is Haverty Furniture Companies's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Haverty Furniture Companies's ROCE is meaningfully below the Specialty Retail industry average of 11%. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Haverty Furniture Companies's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

Haverty Furniture Companies's current ROCE of 8.2% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 11%, 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges.

NYSE:HVT Past Revenue and Net Income, June 13th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during 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 Haverty Furniture Companies.

Haverty Furniture Companies's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Haverty Furniture Companies has total assets of US$575m and current liabilities of US$112m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 20% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

Our Take On Haverty Furniture Companies's ROCE

That said, Haverty Furniture Companies's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.