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Is Autoliv Inc (NYSE:ALV) Spending Too Much Money?

Two important questions to ask before you buy Autoliv Inc (NYSE:ALV) is, how it makes money and how it spends its cash. After investment, what’s left over is what belongs to you, the investor. This also determines how much the stock is worth. I will take you through ALV’s cash flow health and the risk-return concept based on the stock’s cash flow yield, using the most recent financial data. This will help you think about the company from a cash perspective, which is a crucial factor to investing.

See our latest analysis for Autoliv

What is free cash flow?

Autoliv’s free cash flow (FCF) is the level of cash flow the business generates from its operational activities, after it reinvests in the company as capital expenditure. This type of expense is needed for Autoliv to continue to grow, or at least, maintain its current operations.

The two ways to assess whether Autoliv’s FCF is sufficient, is to compare the FCF yield to the market index yield, as well as determine whether the top-line operating cash flows will continue to grow.

Free Cash Flow = Operating Cash Flows – Net Capital Expenditure

Free Cash Flow Yield = Free Cash Flow / Enterprise Value

where Enterprise Value = Market Capitalisation + Net Debt

Autoliv’s yield of 3.48% indicates its sub-standard capacity to generate cash, compared to the stock market index as a whole, accounting for the size differential. This means investors are taking on more concentrated risk on Autoliv but are not being adequately rewarded for doing so.

NYSE:ALV Net Worth November 26th 18

What’s the cash flow outlook for Autoliv?

Does ALV’s future look brighter in terms of its ability to generate higher operating cash flows? This can be estimated by examining the trend of the company’s operating cash flow moving forward. In the next few years, ALV’s operating cash flows is expected to more than double from the current level of US$691m, which is highly optimistic, so long as capital expenditure doesn’t ramp up by even more. Although this seems impressive, breaking down into year-on-year growth rates, ALV’s operating cash flow growth is expected to decline from a rate of 45% in the upcoming year, to 36% by the end of the third year.

Next Steps:

Although its positive operating cash flow, and high future growth, is appealing, the low free cash flow yield is unattractive. This is because you would be better compensated in terms of cash yield, by investing in the market index, as well as take on lower diversification risk. However, cash is only one aspect of investing. Now you know to keep cash flows in mind, You should continue to research Autoliv to get a better picture of the company by looking at:

  1. Valuation: What is ALV 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 ALV is currently mispriced by the market.
  2. Management Team: An experienced management team on the helm increases our confidence in the business – take a look at who sits on Autoliv’s board and the CEO’s back ground.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: If you believe you should cushion your portfolio with something less risky, scroll through 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.