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Why We’re Not Impressed By Super Retail Group Limited’s (ASX:SUL) 14% ROCE

Alvin Rowe

Today we’ll look at Super Retail Group Limited (ASX:SUL) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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 Super Retail Group:

0.14 = AU$187m ÷ (AU$1.8b – AU$427m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

So, Super Retail Group has an ROCE of 14%.

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Does Super Retail Group Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Super Retail Group’s ROCE appears to be around the 14% average of the Specialty Retail industry. Separate from Super Retail Group’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.


ASX:SUL Last Perf January 23rd 19

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Super Retail Group.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Super Retail Group’s ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Super Retail Group has total liabilities of AU$427m and total assets of AU$1.8b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 24% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Super Retail Group’s ROCE

With that in mind, Super Retail Group’s ROCE appears pretty good. But note: Super Retail Group may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.