You May Have Been Looking At Assura Plc (LON:AGR) All Wrong

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Assura Plc is a UK£1.4b 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. In this commentary, I’ll take you through some of the things I look at when assessing AGR.

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A common financial term REIT investors should know is Funds from Operations, or FFO for short, which is a REIT’s main source of income from its portfolio of property, such as rent. FFO is a cleaner and more representative figure of how much AGR actually makes from its day-to-day operations, compared to net income, which can be affected by one-off activities or non-cash items such as depreciation. 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 February 13th 19
LSE:AGR Historical Debt February 13th 19

Robust financial health can be measured using a common metric in the REIT investing world, FFO-to-debt. The calculation roughly estimates how long it will take for AGR to repay debt on its balance sheet, which gives us insight into how much risk is associated with having that level of debt on its books. 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.

Next, interest coverage ratio shows how many times AGR’s earnings can cover its annual interest payments. Usually the ratio is calculated using EBIT, but for REITs, it’s better to use FFO divided by net interest. This is similar to the above concept, but looks at the nearer-term obligations. 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 28.21x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is overvalued.

Next Steps:

In this article, I’ve taken a look at Funds from Operations using various metrics, but it is certainly not sufficient to derive an investment decision based on this value alone. Assura can bring about diversification for your portfolio, but before you decide to invest, take a look at the other aspects you must consider before investing:

  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.