U.S. markets open in 1 hour 48 minutes

Why Cintas Corporation’s (NASDAQ:CTAS) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS) 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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?

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 Cintas:

0.19 = US$1.3b ÷ (US$7.9b - US$1.1b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2020.)

Therefore, Cintas has an ROCE of 19%.

Check out our latest analysis for Cintas

Is Cintas's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Cintas's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.2% average in the Commercial Services industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how Cintas compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

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

NasdaqGS:CTAS Past Revenue and Net Income April 10th 2020

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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 Cintas.

How Cintas'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 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.

Cintas has current liabilities of US$1.1b and total assets of US$7.9b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Cintas's ROCE

With that in mind, Cintas's ROCE appears pretty good. Cintas shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.