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Are Thule Group AB (publ)’s (STO:THULE) High Returns Really That Great?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Thule Group AB (publ) (STO:THULE) 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Thule Group:

0.17 = kr1.2b ÷ (kr8.9b - kr1.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Thule Group has an ROCE of 17%.

See our latest analysis for Thule Group

Is Thule Group's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Thule Group's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 13% average in the Leisure industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Thule Group sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

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

OM:THULE Past Revenue and Net Income, December 21st 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Thule Group.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Thule Group's ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Thule Group has total assets of kr8.9b and current liabilities of kr1.6b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 18% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Thule Group's ROCE

Overall, Thule Group has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Thule Group looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.