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What We Think Of Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited’s (TSE:CTC.A) Investment Potential

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited (TSE:CTC.A) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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 Canadian Tire:

0.099 = CA$1.3b ÷ (CA$19b - CA$5.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Canadian Tire has an ROCE of 9.9%.

Check out our latest analysis for Canadian Tire

Does Canadian Tire Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Canadian Tire's ROCE is around the 12% average reported by the Multiline Retail industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Canadian Tire'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.

The image below shows how Canadian Tire's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

TSX:CTC.A Past Revenue and Net Income, July 22nd 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Canadian Tire.

How Canadian Tire's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Canadian Tire has total liabilities of CA$5.8b and total assets of CA$19b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 30% of its total assets. Canadian Tire's middling level of current liabilities have the effect of boosting its ROCE a bit.

What We Can Learn From Canadian Tire's ROCE

With this level of liabilities and a mediocre ROCE, there are potentially better investments out there. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

I will like Canadian Tire 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.