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Is RH’s (NYSE:RH) 24% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at RH (NYSE:RH) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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?

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 RH:

0.24 = US$353m ÷ (US$2.4b - US$925m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to August 2019.)

Therefore, RH has an ROCE of 24%.

View our latest analysis for RH

Does RH Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that RH's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 11% average in the Specialty Retail industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, RH's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

In our analysis, RH's ROCE appears to be 24%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 9.3%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can see in the image below how RH's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:RH Past Revenue and Net Income, December 4th 2019

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 RH.

Do RH'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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

RH has total assets of US$2.4b and current liabilities of US$925m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 39% of its total assets. RH has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From RH's ROCE

Despite this, it reports a high ROCE, and may be worth investigating further. There might be better investments than RH out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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.