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Are Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE:RCL) 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. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the 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 Royal Caribbean Cruises:

0.094 = US$2.1b ÷ (US$30b - US$7.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Royal Caribbean Cruises has an ROCE of 9.4%.

View our latest analysis for Royal Caribbean Cruises

Does Royal Caribbean Cruises Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Royal Caribbean Cruises's ROCE is around the 8.6% average reported by the Hospitality industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Royal Caribbean Cruises's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

You can see in the image below how Royal Caribbean Cruises's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:RCL Past Revenue and Net Income, October 17th 2019

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, 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.

How Royal Caribbean Cruises's Current Liabilities Impact 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. 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.

Royal Caribbean Cruises has total assets of US$30b and current liabilities of US$7.6b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 25% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Royal Caribbean Cruises's ROCE

If Royal Caribbean Cruises continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.