Is Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) Investing Effectively In Its Business?

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Today we'll evaluate Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

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

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 Chipotle Mexican Grill:

0.094 = US$381m ÷ (US$4.6b - US$582m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Chipotle Mexican Grill has an ROCE of 9.4%.

See our latest analysis for Chipotle Mexican Grill

Does Chipotle Mexican Grill Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Chipotle Mexican Grill's ROCE is around the 9.4% average reported by the Hospitality industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Chipotle Mexican Grill's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

As we can see, Chipotle Mexican Grill currently has an ROCE of 9.4%, less than the 28% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NYSE:CMG Past Revenue and Net Income, June 11th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Chipotle Mexican Grill's 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has total liabilities of US$582m and total assets of US$4.6b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 13% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Chipotle Mexican Grill's ROCE

With that in mind, we're not overly impressed with Chipotle Mexican Grill's ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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.