Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Realogy Holdings (NYSE:RLGY) Is Using Debt Extensively

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Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt - which is usually involved in bankruptcies - is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. We can see that Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE:RLGY) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Realogy Holdings

What Is Realogy Holdings's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Realogy Holdings had US$3.15b of debt in September 2021, down from US$3.45b, one year before. However, it does have US$701.0m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$2.45b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:RLGY Debt to Equity History February 7th 2022

How Strong Is Realogy Holdings' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Realogy Holdings had liabilities of US$1.07b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$4.00b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$701.0m in cash and US$325.0m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$4.04b.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the US$1.92b company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, Realogy Holdings would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Realogy Holdings's debt is 2.8 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 3.6 times over. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. Looking on the bright side, Realogy Holdings boosted its EBIT by a silky 81% in the last year. Like the milk of human kindness that sort of growth increases resilience, making the company more capable of managing debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Realogy Holdings's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, Realogy Holdings actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

We feel some trepidation about Realogy Holdings's difficulty level of total liabilities, but we've got positives to focus on, too. For example, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and EBIT growth rate give us some confidence in its ability to manage its debt. We think that Realogy Holdings's debt does make it a bit risky, after considering the aforementioned data points together. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Realogy Holdings (including 1 which is potentially serious) .

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.

What are the risks and opportunities for Anywhere Real Estate?

Anywhere Real Estate Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides residential real estate services in the United States and internationally.

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Rewards

  • Trading at 84.8% below our estimate of its fair value

Risks

  • Earnings are forecast to decline by an average of 2.2% per year for the next 3 years

  • Debt is not well covered by operating cash flow

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