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Is Weir's weak balance sheet cause for concern?

Michael Green

Business distress and bankruptcy can put a dent in your portfolio no matter how well diversified you are.

That's why paying attention to simple checklists that flag up risky stocks is so important. Stockopedia provides many of these screening tools to help investors safely navigate the stock markets. One of them - the Altman Z-Score - was found to be:

  • 72% accurate in predicting bankruptcy two years prior to the event in its initial test
  • 80-90% accurate in predicting bankruptcy one year before the event in the 31 years up until 1999

That's quite the vote of confidence. The Z-Score was developed by New York University finance professor and leading academic, Edward I. Altman. It measures how closely a firm resembles other firms that have filed for bankruptcy by considering the following areas:

  • Current assets as a proportion of total assets,
  • Cumulative profitability and use of leverage,
  • Productivity of assets, and
  • Firm value compared to liabilities

A Z-Score of more than 2.99 is considered to be a safe company. Those with a Z-Score of less than 1.8, on the other hand, have been shown to have a significant risk of financial distress within two years. We can see the checklist in action by applying it to a listed company. Take mid cap Weir (LON:WEIR), for example.

How does Weir fare against Altman’s influential checklist?


What does the Altman Z-Score flag up about Weir?

Unfortunately, Weir fails Altman’s test, with a worryingly low Z-Score of  1.72...

Weir's low Z-Score doesn't mean that it is definitely heading for financial distress, but it does mean this fate is more of a risk for Weir than it is for most.

In 2009, Morgan Stanley strategy analyst, Graham Secker, used the Z-score to rank a basket of European companies. He found that the companies with weaker balance sheets underperformed the market more than two-thirds of the time. This quick look at Weir shows that it also has weak spots that require further investigation.

If you would like to view the specific factors that gave Weir its 1.72 score, please review its StockReport with a free trial here.

Fortify your portfolio with simple, effective tools

The problem areas for Weir identified here can be explored in more depth on Stockopedia's research platform. All the best investors have stringent due diligence processes that reduce the chances of them suffering big losses, so why not take a leaf out of their book?

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