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Why You Should Like The Home Depot, Inc.’s (NYSE:HD) ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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 Home Depot:

0.48 = US$16b ÷ (US$52b - US$19b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to August 2019.)

Therefore, Home Depot has an ROCE of 48%.

Check out our latest analysis for Home Depot

Is Home Depot's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Home Depot's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 10% average in the Specialty Retail industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Home Depot's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

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

NYSE:HD Past Revenue and Net Income, October 21st 2019

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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Home Depot's Current Liabilities Skew 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. 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.

Home Depot has total liabilities of US$19b and total assets of US$52b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 36% of its total assets. Home Depot has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Home Depot's ROCE

Despite this, it reports a high ROCE, and may be worth investigating further. There might be better investments than Home Depot 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.