Is Taylor Wimpey (LON:TW.) Using Too Much Debt?

by 24britishtvOct. 6, 2021, 7 a.m. 35
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Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. We note that Taylor Wimpey plc (LON:TW.) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own 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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Taylor Wimpey had UK£99.1m of debt in July 2021, down from UK£104.5m, one year before. However, its balance sheet shows it holds UK£1.01b in cash, so it actually has UK£906.5m net cash.

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Taylor Wimpey had liabilities of UK£1.12b due within 12 months and liabilities of UK£895.5m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had UK£1.01b in cash and UK£154.8m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by UK£857.0m.

Given Taylor Wimpey has a market capitalization of UK£5.56b, 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. Despite its noteworthy liabilities, Taylor Wimpey boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

On top of that, Taylor Wimpey grew its EBIT by 40% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its 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 Taylor Wimpey'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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. Taylor Wimpey 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. Looking at the most recent three years, Taylor Wimpey recorded free cash flow of 48% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Although Taylor Wimpey's balance sheet isn't particularly strong, due to the total liabilities, it is clearly positive to see that it has net cash of UK£906.5m. And we liked the look of last year's 40% year-on-year EBIT growth. So we don't think Taylor Wimpey's use of debt is risky. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Taylor Wimpey .

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.

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.



Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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