The Rolls-Royce (LSE:RR) share price has struggled to make headway over the past couple of months. We did see an impressive rally late last year from 40p to around 135p. Recently, the share price has since fallen back to trade in a range between 100p and 110p. Given that shares were trading above 200p at the start of last year, does the current price make it a cheap buy?
A tight trading range
I think there are a few reasons why the Rolls-Royce share price is currently trading in a tight range around 100p. Firstly, I think a lot of investors are waiting on the sidelines for half-year results. These are due out on 5 August.
This should provide a more detailed picture of how the business has coped in the period when lockdown restrictions were starting to end. In theory, this should support the share price if the planned outlook financials are raised. However, nothing is certain at the moment, and so some are likely keeping their powder dry until August.
Another reason for the lack of movement recently could be due to the policy regarding Covid-19 restrictions. The anticipated freedom day in June has been pushed back to later in July. The international travel traffic light system hasn’t been the most efficient process.
This has meant that the amount of flights and commercial aviation has been limited. Due to the ties Rolls-Royce has to this sector, I’m not surprised that the share price hasn’t been able to find a positive catalyst to move higher.
Is the current Rolls-Royce share price fair?
It’s hard to confidently say that the Rolls-Royce share price is cheap at current levels around 100p. This is because what is cheap to me might not be to someone else.
A traditional method would be to look at the price-to-earnings ratio. Usually, a low ratio could indicate that a stock is undervalued and cheap. However, Rolls-Royce made a loss last year, so the ratio is negative.
It’s also hard to rank Rolls-Royce against other companies as it depends on what sector I put it in. If I compare it to BAE Systems with a P/E ratio of 11.3, then I would say the share price looks cheap. What about if I compare it to an aviation company like International Consolidated Airlines Group? IAG has an even more negative P/E ratio than Rolls-Royce. So I could argue that IAG offers better value than the current Rolls-Royce share price.
I could also look internally at Rolls-Royce. If the half-year results show a reduction in debt and good cash savings, this should help to boost the net asset value. In turn, this naturally should help to push the Rolls-Royce share price higher, as the fundamental value of the business has increased.
2021 net debt (pre-disposals) is expected at £4bn, but potentially getting back £2bn with disposal proceeds. Again, I’m going to have to wait until next month for an update on how well this is going.
Overall, I think the Rolls-Royce share price is fairly priced around 100p right now. However, results next month will allow me to get a much better picture in this regard, depending on earnings and debt levels.