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Why boohoo group plc’s (LON:BOO) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at boohoo group plc (LON:BOO) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the 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.

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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 boohoo group:

0.27 = UK£79m ÷ (UK£519m - UK£222m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to August 2019.)

So, boohoo group has an ROCE of 27%.

View our latest analysis for boohoo group

Is boohoo group's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. boohoo group's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 17% average in the Online Retail 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, boohoo group's ROCE is currently very good.

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

AIM:BOO Past Revenue and Net Income, November 26th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How boohoo group's Current Liabilities Impact 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 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.

boohoo group has total assets of UK£519m and current liabilities of UK£222m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 43% of its total assets. boohoo group has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On boohoo group's ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. There might be better investments than boohoo group 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.

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.