The third quarter results season has left a still picture of the balance sheet of the main listed companies, very different from that of just one year ago. As of September 30, the aggregate net financial debt stood at 159,778 million. This figure represents a decrease of 6% with respect to the same period of the previous year.
Up to 11 companies they have lightened their financial commitments notably in this period, although the greatest weight in the cut has been concentrated in four names. Stands out above all Repsol. The oil company has released ballast worth 4,668 million in the last year, placing its debt at 2,304 million, thanks mainly to the income obtained after the sale of its historic stake of 20% in Naturgy (former Union Fenosa).
STRONG DEBT CLOSURE
Non-financial companies of the Ibex 35. As of September 30 *
In absolute terms, the second largest debt reduction was carried out by Telefónica. The operator closed the third quarter of 2018 with commitments of 42,636 million, 4,586 million less than in September 2017. The company has six consecutive quarters with this trend. Despite dedicating part of the cash generation to improve its solvency, Telefónica took advantage of the presentation of results to confirm the dividend target of 0.4 euros charged to the profits of the year. The group has its debt maturities covered for the next two years.
It is also significant the cut carried out by Naturgy amounting to 2,148 million. The energy group lowered its debt by 13.6% in the last year to 13,575 million since it allocated part of its cash to amortize part of its corporate bank debt. The company chaired by Francisco Reynés plans to continue with this policy until its debt is reduced by 3,600 million.
Another company that has completely reversed the structure of its balance sheet is ACS. The construction and services group has gone from having a debt of 1,416 million in September 2017 to having a treasury position of 128 million. The reorganization, carried out fundamentally through a series of disinvestments, has allowed the company led by Florentino Pérez to arrive at a deshago to carry out the investment effort that has allowed it to control Abertis together with the Italian group Atlantia, with a structure that also allows that the company does not consolidate debt for that operation.
In the last 12 months some companies, however, have taken advantage of the interest rate context to capture debt with which to finance their growth. Colonial is the Ibex company that has most raised its debt in the period (1,397 million), followed by Iberdrola (1,103 million), Endesa (887 million) and Cellnex 832 million.
Analysts remember that having debt is not bad by itself if the company generates enough cash flow to respond to maturities. Moreover, the market sometimes interprets that too low a level of debt can be synonymous with a lack of investment opportunities. In the Ibex 35 there are several companies with a net treasury position (the opposite of debt). The case of Inditex stands out: the textile group, at the end of its first fiscal semester, had a cash valued at 5,944 million. Siemens Gamesa (615 million cash), Técnicas Reunidas (189 million) and Mediaset (129 million) are also free of commitments.