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Should You Like Malibu Boats, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:MBUU) High Return On Capital Employed?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Malibu Boats, Inc. (NASDAQ:MBUU) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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 Malibu Boats:

0.26 = US$98m ÷ (US$456m - US$83m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Malibu Boats has an ROCE of 26%.

View our latest analysis for Malibu Boats

Does Malibu Boats Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Malibu Boats's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 17% average in the Leisure industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Malibu Boats's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Malibu Boats's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGM:MBUU Past Revenue and Net Income, August 23rd 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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 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 Malibu Boats.

Malibu Boats'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.

Malibu Boats has total liabilities of US$83m and total assets of US$456m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 18% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Malibu Boats's ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Malibu Boats look quite interesting. Malibu Boats shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.