U.S. Markets close in 5 hrs 45 mins

La-Z-Boy Incorporated (NYSE:LZB) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate La-Z-Boy Incorporated (NYSE:LZB) 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. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for La-Z-Boy:

0.17 = US$132m ÷ (US$1.1b - US$269m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2019.)

Therefore, La-Z-Boy has an ROCE of 17%.

See our latest analysis for La-Z-Boy

Is La-Z-Boy's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, we find that La-Z-Boy'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 La-Z-Boy sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

NYSE:LZB Past Revenue and Net Income, April 15th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. 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 La-Z-Boy.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect La-Z-Boy's ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. 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.

La-Z-Boy has total assets of US$1.1b and current liabilities of US$269m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 25% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

Our Take On La-Z-Boy's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, La-Z-Boy could be worth a closer look. La-Z-Boy looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

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.