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Should You Like Momo Inc.’s (NASDAQ:MOMO) High Return On Capital Employed?

Blake Harford

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Today we’ll evaluate Momo Inc. (NASDAQ:MOMO) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE 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 is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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. 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?

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 Momo:

0.22 = US$361m ÷ (US$2.6b – US$352m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, Momo has an ROCE of 22%.

See our latest analysis for Momo

Is Momo’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Momo’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.6% average in the Interactive Media and Services industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Momo’s ROCE is currently very good.

Momo has an ROCE of 22%, but it didn’t have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. That implies the business has been improving.

NasdaqGS:MOMO Past Revenue and Net Income, February 21st 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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 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 Momo.

Do Momo’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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.

Momo has total assets of US$2.6b and current liabilities of US$352m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 14% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Momo’s ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Momo look quite interesting. But note: Momo may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

I will like Momo 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.