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Why Pitney Bowes Stock Dropped 11% on Friday

By Rich Smith - May 31, 2019 at 1:15PM

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Free cash flow growth concerns mount, but is the selling overdone?

What happened

It's Friday, and shares of postal solutions provider Pitney Bowes (PBI 6.57%) are down again -- this time, by 10.9% (as of 12:45 p.m. EDT).

Once again, there's no obvious driver behind the stock's decline -- no downgrades, no negative press releases from the company (or negative news reports about the company). So once again, I can think of only one thing to blame:

Free cash flow (FCF).

Glowing red arrow trending down

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

As I explained yesterday, Pitney Bowes' recent "investor day" PowerPoint presentation contained a few disturbing revelations, not the least of which was management's promise that "Free Cash Flow will Return to Year-over-Year Growth in 2022."

On S&P Global Market Intelligence, however, analysts have been forecasting a return to FCF growth by 2021. Thus, although Pitney Bowes phrased its prediction positively, investors may be forgiven for taking the news in a negative light.

Now what

Although Pitney Bowes now appears to be predicting an extra year of free cash flow declining, it is still producing free cash flow currently. Positive free cash flow of more than $200 million, to be precise, and at a market capitalization of $723 million; this means Pitney Bowes stock only costs about 3.6 times the amount of cash it produces in a year right now (and only about 4.5 times earnings).

Were it not for the fact that Pitney Bowes also carries a $2.5 billion slug of debt net of cash, raising its enterprise value to something more like $3.2 billion (and its enterprise value-to-free-cash-flow ratio, accordingly, to 16), I'd almost be inclined to say the stock is looking cheap enough to buy.


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