Strabag (VIE:STR) Has A Pretty Healthy Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 13, 2021
WBAG:STR
Source: Shutterstock

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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. Importantly, Strabag SE (VIE:STR) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Strabag

What Is Strabag's Debt?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Strabag had €1.16b in debt in June 2021; about the same as the year before. But it also has €2.14b in cash to offset that, meaning it has €974.9m net cash.

debt-equity-history-analysis
WBAG:STR Debt to Equity History November 14th 2021

How Healthy Is Strabag's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Strabag had liabilities of €5.97b falling due within a year, and liabilities of €2.19b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had €2.14b in cash and €3.22b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling €2.80b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of €3.93b. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry. While it does have liabilities worth noting, Strabag also has more cash than debt, so we're pretty confident it can manage its debt safely.

The good news is that Strabag has increased its EBIT by 6.9% over twelve months, which should ease any concerns about debt repayment. 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 Strabag's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. Strabag may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. Happily for any shareholders, Strabag actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Summing up

While Strabag does have more liabilities than liquid assets, it also has net cash of €974.9m. The cherry on top was that in converted 119% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in €724m. So we are not troubled with Strabag's debt use. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Be aware that Strabag is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those doesn't sit too well with us...

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.

Make Confident Investment Decisions

Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.