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Why We Like Intuit Inc.’s (NASDAQ:INTU) 47% Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

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 Intuit:

0.47 = US$1.6b ÷ (US$5.3b - US$2.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2019.)

Therefore, Intuit has an ROCE of 47%.

See our latest analysis for Intuit

Does Intuit Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Intuit's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.4% average in the Software industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Intuit's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

NasdaqGS:INTU Past Revenue and Net Income, April 23rd 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Intuit.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Intuit's ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Intuit has total liabilities of US$2.0b and total assets of US$5.3b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 38% of its total assets. Intuit has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On Intuit's ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. Intuit 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.

I will like Intuit better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.