U.S. markets closed
  • S&P 500

    4,166.45
    -55.41 (-1.31%)
     
  • Dow 30

    33,290.08
    -533.37 (-1.58%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    14,030.38
    -130.97 (-0.92%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    2,237.75
    -49.71 (-2.17%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    71.50
    +0.46 (+0.65%)
     
  • Gold

    1,763.90
    -10.90 (-0.61%)
     
  • Silver

    25.84
    -0.01 (-0.04%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.1865
    -0.0045 (-0.38%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.4500
    -0.0610 (-4.04%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3809
    -0.0115 (-0.83%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    110.1500
    -0.0810 (-0.07%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    35,650.60
    -594.69 (-1.64%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    888.52
    -51.42 (-5.47%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,017.47
    -135.96 (-1.90%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    28,964.08
    -54.25 (-0.19%)
     

Taylor Wimpey (LON:TW.) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

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 the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Taylor Wimpey

How Much Debt Does Taylor Wimpey Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at June 2020 Taylor Wimpey had debt of UK£104.5m, up from UK£89.3m in one year. But on the other hand it also has UK£601.8m in cash, leading to a UK£497.3m net cash position.

debt-equity-history-analysis
debt-equity-history-analysis

How Strong Is Taylor Wimpey's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Taylor Wimpey had liabilities of UK£1.00b due within a year, and liabilities of UK£743.7m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of UK£601.8m and UK£144.0m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total UK£1.00b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Given Taylor Wimpey has a market capitalization of UK£5.47b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time. While it does have liabilities worth noting, Taylor Wimpey also has more cash than debt, so we're pretty confident it can manage its debt safely.

It is just as well that Taylor Wimpey's load is not too heavy, because its EBIT was down 34% over the last year. Falling earnings (if the trend continues) could eventually make even modest debt quite risky. 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're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. While Taylor Wimpey has net cash on its balance sheet, it's still worth taking a look at its ability to convert earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, to help us understand how quickly it is building (or eroding) that cash balance. In the last three years, Taylor Wimpey's free cash flow amounted to 48% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Summing up

While Taylor Wimpey does have more liabilities than liquid assets, it also has net cash of UK£497.3m. So we are not troubled with Taylor Wimpey's debt use. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 2 warning signs with Taylor Wimpey , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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. 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@simplywallst.com.