Stock Analysis

Does Bilfinger (ETR:GBF) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

XTRA:GBF
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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 more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Bilfinger

How Much Debt Does Bilfinger Carry?

As you can see below, Bilfinger had €255.8m of debt at June 2022, down from €375.1m a year prior. But it also has €530.4m in cash to offset that, meaning it has €274.6m net cash.

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XTRA:GBF Debt to Equity History September 21st 2022

How Healthy Is Bilfinger's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Bilfinger had liabilities of €1.20b falling due within a year, and liabilities of €658.2m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of €530.4m and €1.12b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by €211.3m.

Given Bilfinger has a market capitalization of €1.07b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse. While it does have liabilities worth noting, Bilfinger also has more cash than debt, so we're pretty confident it can manage its debt safely.

Fortunately, Bilfinger grew its EBIT by 7.6% in the last year, making that debt load look even more manageable. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Bilfinger can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. While Bilfinger has net cash on its balance sheet, it's still worth taking a look at its ability to convert earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, to help us understand how quickly it is building (or eroding) that cash balance. Over the last two years, Bilfinger reported free cash flow worth 18% of its EBIT, which is really quite low. That limp level of cash conversion undermines its ability to manage and pay down debt.

Summing Up

Although Bilfinger's balance sheet isn't particularly strong, due to the total liabilities, it is clearly positive to see that it has net cash of €274.6m. On top of that, it increased its EBIT by 7.6% in the last twelve months. So we don't have any problem with Bilfinger's use of debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Bilfinger you should be aware of.

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.

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.