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Why Lifetime Brands, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:LCUT) Use Of Investor Capital Doesn’t Look Great

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Lifetime Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:LCUT) 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.'

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Lifetime Brands:

0.053 = US$36m ÷ (US$780m - US$102m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Lifetime Brands has an ROCE of 5.3%.

View our latest analysis for Lifetime Brands

Does Lifetime Brands Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Lifetime Brands's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 11% average in the Consumer Durables industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Independently of how Lifetime Brands compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.7% available in government bonds. There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

As we can see, Lifetime Brands currently has an ROCE of 5.3%, less than the 7.4% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NasdaqGS:LCUT Past Revenue and Net Income, June 7th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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 Lifetime Brands.

Do Lifetime Brands's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Lifetime Brands has total liabilities of US$102m and total assets of US$780m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 13% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

The Bottom Line On Lifetime Brands's ROCE

That's not a bad thing, however Lifetime Brands has a weak ROCE and may not be an attractive investment. You might be able to find a better investment than Lifetime Brands. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.