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What Can We Make Of Vail Resorts, Inc.’s (NYSE:MTN) High Return On Capital?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE:MTN) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

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 Vail Resorts:

0.13 = US$498m ÷ (US$4.4b - US$615m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2019.)

Therefore, Vail Resorts has an ROCE of 13%.

View our latest analysis for Vail Resorts

Is Vail Resorts's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Vail Resorts's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.4% average in the Hospitality industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Vail Resorts sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Vail Resorts's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:MTN Past Revenue and Net Income, July 10th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Vail Resorts.

Vail Resorts's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Vail Resorts has total liabilities of US$615m and total assets of US$4.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 14% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Vail Resorts's ROCE

Overall, Vail Resorts has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. There might be better investments than Vail Resorts 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.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.