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Here’s What Helen of Troy Limited’s (NASDAQ:HELE) ROCE Can Tell Us

Michael Crabtree

Today we’ll evaluate Helen of Troy Limited (NASDAQ:HELE) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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.’

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 Helen of Troy:

0.15 = US$190m ÷ (US$1.7b – US$335m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to November 2018.)

Therefore, Helen of Troy has an ROCE of 15%.

See our latest analysis for Helen of Troy

Is Helen of Troy’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Helen of Troy’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 11% average in the Consumer Durables industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Helen of Troy sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.


NASDAQGS:HELE Last Perf January 28th 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. 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 Helen of Troy.

Helen of Troy’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Helen of Troy has total assets of US$1.7b and current liabilities of US$335m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 19% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Helen of Troy’s ROCE

With that in mind, Helen of Troy’s ROCE appears pretty good. You might be able to find a better buy than Helen of Troy. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

I will like Helen of Troy better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.