Should You Invest In Assura Plc (LON:AGR)?

Assura Plc is a UK£1.3b small-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Warrington, United Kingdom. REITs own and operate income-generating property and adhere to a different set of regulations. This impacts how AGR’s business operates and also how we should analyse its stock. Below, I’ll look at a few important metrics to keep in mind as part of your research on AGR.

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REIT investors should be familiar with the term Fund from Operations (FFO) – a REIT’s main source of cash flow from its day-to-day business activities. FFO is a higher quality measure of earnings because it takes out the impact of non-recurring sales and non-cash items such as depreciation. These items can distort the bottom line and not necessarily reflective of AGR’s daily operations. For AGR, its FFO of UK£50m makes up 62% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

LSE:AGR Historical Debt October 11th 18
LSE:AGR Historical Debt October 11th 18

AGR’s financial stability can be gauged by seeing how much its FFO generated each year can cover its total amount of debt. The higher the coverage, the less risky AGR is, broadly speaking, to have debt on its books. The metric I’ll be using, FFO-to-debt, also estimates the time it will take for the company to repay its debt with its FFO. With a ratio of 10%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as aggressive risk. This would take AGR 9.8 years to pay off using just operating income, which is a long time, and risk increases with time. But realistically, companies have many levers to pull in order to pay back their debt, beyond operating income alone.

I also look at AGR’s interest coverage ratio, which demonstrates how many times its earnings can cover its yearly interest expense. This is similar to the concept above, but looks at the upcoming obligations. The ratio is typically calculated using EBIT, but for a REIT stock, it’s better to use FFO divided by net interest. With an interest coverage ratio of 2.17x, AGR is not generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings. Typically, a ratio of greater than 3x is seen as safe.

In terms of valuing AGR, FFO can also be used as a form of relative valuation. Instead of the P/E ratio, P/FFO is used instead, which is very common for REIT stocks. In AGR’s case its P/FFO is 26.94x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is overvalued.

Next Steps:

As a REIT, Assura offers some unique characteristics which could help diversify your portfolio. However, before you decide on whether or not to invest in AGR, I highly recommend taking a look at other aspects of the stock to consider:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for AGR’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for AGR’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is AGR worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether AGR is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.