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What We Think Of Viad Corp’s (NYSE:VVI) Investment Potential

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Viad Corp (NYSE:VVI) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding 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. 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?

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 Viad:

0.10 = US$67m ÷ (US$1.2b - US$565m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Viad has an ROCE of 10%.

Check out our latest analysis for Viad

Does Viad Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Viad's ROCE appears to be around the 11% average of the Commercial Services industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Viad's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

We can see that , Viad currently has an ROCE of 10% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 7.7%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. The image below shows how Viad's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:VVI Past Revenue and Net Income, September 13th 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. 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.

Do Viad's Current Liabilities Skew 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 ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Viad has total assets of US$1.2b and current liabilities of US$565m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 46% of its total assets. Viad's middling level of current liabilities have the effect of boosting its ROCE a bit.

Our Take On Viad'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 Viad 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.