Here’s What Cintas Corporation’s (NASDAQ:CTAS) ROCE Can Tell Us

Simply Wall St

Today we’ll evaluate Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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 Cintas:

0.18 = US$1.2b ÷ (US$7.4b – US$994m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2019.)

So, Cintas has an ROCE of 18%.

View our latest analysis for Cintas

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Does Cintas Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Cintas’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 10% average in the Commercial Services industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how Cintas compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

NasdaqGS:CTAS Past Revenue and Net Income, March 24th 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Cintas’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Cintas has total assets of US$7.4b and current liabilities of US$994m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Cintas’s ROCE

With that in mind, Cintas’s ROCE appears pretty good. But note: Cintas 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).

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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.