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Why Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY) Looks Like A Quality Company

Simply Wall St

Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). By way of learning-by-doing, we'll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY).

Over the last twelve months Dave & Buster's Entertainment has recorded a ROE of 30%. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, it generated $0.30 in profit.

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View our latest analysis for Dave & Buster's Entertainment

How Do I Calculate ROE?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders' Equity

Or for Dave & Buster's Entertainment:

30% = US$117m ÷ US$388m (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2019.)

Most readers would understand what net profit is, but it’s worth explaining the concept of shareholders’ equity. It is all earnings retained by the company, plus any capital paid in by shareholders. The easiest way to calculate shareholders' equity is to subtract the company's total liabilities from the total assets.

What Does ROE Signify?

ROE looks at the amount a company earns relative to the money it has kept within the business. The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. The higher the ROE, the more profit the company is making. So, all else being equal, a high ROE is better than a low one. That means it can be interesting to compare the ROE of different companies.

Does Dave & Buster's Entertainment Have A Good Return On Equity?

One simple way to determine if a company has a good return on equity is to compare it to the average for its industry. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. Pleasingly, Dave & Buster's Entertainment has a superior ROE than the average (14%) company in the Hospitality industry.

NasdaqGS:PLAY Past Revenue and Net Income, May 22nd 2019

That's clearly a positive. We think a high ROE, alone, is usually enough to justify further research into a company. For example, I often check if insiders have been buying shares .

The Importance Of Debt To Return On Equity

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, or debt. In the case of the first and second options, the ROE will reflect this use of cash, for growth. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

Combining Dave & Buster's Entertainment's Debt And Its 30% Return On Equity

Dave & Buster's Entertainment clearly uses a significant amount of debt to boost returns, as it has a debt to equity ratio of 1.01. I think the ROE is impressive, but it would have been assisted by the use of debt. Debt does bring extra risk, so it's only really worthwhile when a company generates some decent returns from it.

The Key Takeaway

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. In my book the highest quality companies have high return on equity, despite low debt. All else being equal, a higher ROE is better.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you'll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. So you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

But note: Dave & Buster's Entertainment may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE and low debt.

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.