U.S. Markets closed

Has IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IAC) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IAC) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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'.

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 IAC/InterActiveCorp:

0.08 = US$585m ÷ (US$8.3b - US$1.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

So, IAC/InterActiveCorp has an ROCE of 8.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for IAC/InterActiveCorp

Does IAC/InterActiveCorp Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see IAC/InterActiveCorp's ROCE is around the 9.0% average reported by the Interactive Media and Services industry. Separate from how IAC/InterActiveCorp stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

You can see in the image below how IAC/InterActiveCorp's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NasdaqGS:IAC Past Revenue and Net Income, February 7th 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for IAC/InterActiveCorp.

Do IAC/InterActiveCorp's Current Liabilities Skew 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.

IAC/InterActiveCorp has current liabilities of US$1.0b and total assets of US$8.3b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 12% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From IAC/InterActiveCorp's ROCE

That said, IAC/InterActiveCorp's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than IAC/InterActiveCorp. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.