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How Do McCarthy & Stone plc’s (LON:MCS) Returns Compare To Its Industry?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at McCarthy & Stone plc (LON:MCS) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of 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 is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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 McCarthy & Stone:

0.07 = UK£58m ÷ (UK£963m - UK£135m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2019.)

Therefore, McCarthy & Stone has an ROCE of 7.0%.

See our latest analysis for McCarthy & Stone

Does McCarthy & Stone Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see McCarthy & Stone's ROCE is meaningfully below the Consumer Durables industry average of 15%. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, McCarthy & Stone's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

McCarthy & Stone's current ROCE of 7.0% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 13% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how McCarthy & Stone's past growth compares to other companies.

LSE:MCS Past Revenue and Net Income, July 4th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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 McCarthy & Stone.

McCarthy & Stone's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

McCarthy & Stone has total liabilities of UK£135m and total assets of UK£963m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 14% 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 McCarthy & Stone's ROCE

If McCarthy & Stone continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. You might be able to find a better investment than McCarthy & Stone. 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).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.