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Why Six Flags Entertainment Corporation’s (NYSE:SIX) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE:SIX) 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.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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 Six Flags Entertainment:

0.23 = US$512m ÷ (US$2.7b - US$531m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Six Flags Entertainment has an ROCE of 23%.

See our latest analysis for Six Flags Entertainment

Is Six Flags Entertainment's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, we find that Six Flags Entertainment's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.4% average in the Hospitality industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Six Flags Entertainment's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

NYSE:SIX Past Revenue and Net Income, June 11th 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Six Flags Entertainment.

Six Flags Entertainment's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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.

Six Flags Entertainment has total liabilities of US$531m and total assets of US$2.7b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

Our Take On Six Flags Entertainment's ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making Six Flags Entertainment look quite interesting. There might be better investments than Six Flags Entertainment 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 are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.