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Should Lumber Liquidators Holdings, Inc.’s (NYSE:LL) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Simply Wall St

Today we’ll evaluate Lumber Liquidators Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:LL) 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. Then we’ll compare its ROCE 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. 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?

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 Lumber Liquidators Holdings:

0.074 = US$20m ÷ (US$443m – US$178m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, Lumber Liquidators Holdings has an ROCE of 7.4%.

View our latest analysis for Lumber Liquidators Holdings

Does Lumber Liquidators Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Lumber Liquidators Holdings’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 13% average in the Specialty Retail industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Lumber Liquidators Holdings’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.

As we can see, Lumber Liquidators Holdings currently has an ROCE of 7.4% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 0.8%. This makes us think the business might be improving.

NYSE:LL Past Revenue and Net Income, March 14th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Lumber Liquidators Holdings.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Lumber Liquidators Holdings’s ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Lumber Liquidators Holdings has total assets of US$443m and current liabilities of US$178m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 40% of its total assets. Lumber Liquidators Holdings’s ROCE is improved somewhat by its moderate amount of current liabilities.

Our Take On Lumber Liquidators Holdings’s ROCE

Unfortunately, its ROCE is still uninspiring, and there are potentially more attractive prospects out there. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Lumber Liquidators Holdings. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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

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.