Here's Why PORR (VIE:POS) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden
Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. As with many other companies PORR AG (VIE:POS) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
When Is Debt A Problem?
Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.
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What Is PORR's Debt?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that PORR had €694.5m of debt in September 2022, down from €734.1m, one year before. However, it does have €466.0m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about €228.5m.
How Healthy Is PORR's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that PORR had liabilities of €2.66b due within a year, and liabilities of €725.3m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of €466.0m and €1.89b worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling €1.03b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
The deficiency here weighs heavily on the €507.8m company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, PORR would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.
We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
While PORR's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.4 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 3.2 times last year does give us pause. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. We also note that PORR improved its EBIT from a last year's loss to a positive €32m. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine PORR's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.
Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, PORR actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last year. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.
We'd go so far as to say PORR's level of total liabilities was disappointing. But at least it's pretty decent at converting EBIT to free cash flow; that's encouraging. Looking at the balance sheet and taking into account all these factors, we do believe that debt is making PORR stock a bit risky. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we'd generally feel more comfortable with less leverage. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Be aware that PORR is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...
When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
PORR AG operates as a construction company in Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Qatar, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Great Britain, Slovakia, Norway, Croatia, the United Arab Emirates, and internationally.
Flawless balance sheet, undervalued and pays a dividend.