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Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE:SIX) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE:SIX) 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

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

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its 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?

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 Six Flags Entertainment:

0.21 = US$539m ÷ (US$3.0b - US$411m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Six Flags Entertainment has an ROCE of 21%.

View our latest analysis for Six Flags Entertainment

Is Six Flags Entertainment's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Six Flags Entertainment's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 8.5% average in the Hospitality industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Six Flags Entertainment's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

We can see that, Six Flags Entertainment currently has an ROCE of 21% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 13%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Six Flags Entertainment's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:SIX Past Revenue and Net Income, November 19th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Six Flags Entertainment's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that 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.

Six Flags Entertainment has total assets of US$3.0b and current liabilities of US$411m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 14% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Six Flags Entertainment's ROCE

Overall, Six Flags Entertainment has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Six Flags Entertainment 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.

Six Flags Entertainment is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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.