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What Can We Make Of Weibo Corporation’s (NASDAQ:WB) High Return On Capital?

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Weibo Corporation (NASDAQ:WB) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

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. 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.'

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Weibo:

0.23 = US$620m ÷ (US$3.3b - US$630m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Weibo has an ROCE of 23%.

View our latest analysis for Weibo

Is Weibo's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Weibo's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 10% average in the Interactive Media and Services industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Weibo's ROCE is currently very good.

In our analysis, Weibo's ROCE appears to be 23%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 6.0%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

NasdaqGS:WB Past Revenue and Net Income, April 29th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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 only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Weibo.

How Weibo's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Weibo has total liabilities of US$630m and total assets of US$3.3b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 19% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Weibo's ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, Weibo may be worth a closer look. Weibo 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 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.