Stock Analysis

Bilfinger (ETR:GBF) Has A Pretty Healthy Balance Sheet

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David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. We note that Bilfinger SE (ETR:GBF) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth 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 Bilfinger

How Much Debt Does Bilfinger Carry?

As you can see below, Bilfinger had €375.1m of debt, at June 2021, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, it does have €781.8m in cash offsetting this, leading to net cash of €406.7m.

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XTRA:GBF Debt to Equity History November 5th 2021

A Look At Bilfinger's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Bilfinger had liabilities of €1.18b due within 12 months, and liabilities of €861.4m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of €781.8m and €1.04b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total €219.5m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Since publicly traded Bilfinger shares are worth a total of €1.32b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time. Despite its noteworthy liabilities, Bilfinger boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

It was also good to see that despite losing money on the EBIT line last year, Bilfinger turned things around in the last 12 months, delivering and EBIT of €126m. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Bilfinger can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. Bilfinger 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. Over the last year, Bilfinger saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Summing up

While Bilfinger does have more liabilities than liquid assets, it also has net cash of €406.7m. So we are not troubled with Bilfinger'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. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Bilfinger (1 is potentially serious) you should be aware of.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Bilfinger is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.

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