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Does Proto Labs, Inc. (NYSE:PRLB) Generate Enough Cash?

Simply Wall St

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Proto Labs, Inc. (NYSE:PRLB) shareholders, and potential investors, need to understand how much cash the business makes from its core operational activities, as well as how much is invested back into the business. After investment, what’s left over is what belongs to you, the investor. This also determines how much the stock is worth. I’ve analysed below, the health and outlook of PRLB’s cash flow, which will help you understand the stock from a cash standpoint. Cash is an important concept to grasp as an investor, as it directly impacts the value of your shares and the future growth potential of your portfolio.

See our latest analysis for Proto Labs

Is Proto Labs generating enough cash?

Free cash flow (FCF) is the amount of cash Proto Labs has left after it pays off its expenses, including its net capital expenditures, which is what the company needs to spend each year to maintain or grow its business operations.

The two ways to assess whether Proto Labs’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

Along with a positive operating cash flow, Proto Labs also generates a positive free cash flow. However, the yield of 2.22% is not sufficient to compensate for the level of risk investors are taking on. This is because Proto Labs’s yield is well-below the market yield, in addition to serving higher risk compared to the well-diversified market index.

NYSE:PRLB Balance Sheet Net Worth, April 1st 2019

Is Proto Labs's yield sustainable?

Another important consideration is whether this return is likely to be maintained over the next couple of years. We can gauge this by looking at PRLB’s expected operating cash flows. In the next couple of years, the company is expected to grow its cash from operations at a double-digit rate of 41%, ramping up from its current levels of US$123m to US$173m in three years’ time. Furthermore, breaking down growth into a year on year basis, PRLB is able to increase its growth rate each year, from -3.2% in the upcoming year, to 23% by the end of the third year. The overall picture seems encouraging, should capital expenditure levels maintain at an appropriate level.

Next Steps:

Low free cash flow yield means you are not currently well-compensated for the risk you’re taking on by holding onto Proto Labs relative to a well-diversified market index. However, the high growth in operating cash flow may change the tides in the future. Keep in mind that cash is only one aspect of investment analysis and there are other important fundamentals to assess. I suggest you continue to research Proto Labs to get a more holistic view of the company by looking at:

  1. Valuation: What is PRLB 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 PRLB 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 Proto Labs’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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.