Can the Rolls-Royce share price take off again?

With cash flows being restored, can the Rolls-Royce share price make a comeback? Or is there a bigger threat on the horizon?

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Key Points

  • The Rolls-Royce share price has dropped by 30% since the start of 2022 as investor sentiment becomes bleaker
  • Looming order cancellations for Trent 7000 engines could significantly impact its aerospace division revenue stream
  • Corporate restructuring combined with promising performance from other divisions could push free cash flow back into the black by the end of 2022

2022 continues to be a rough year for Rolls-Royce (LSE:RR) and its share price. Despite the travel sector making solid recovery progress from the pandemic, the stock is down by over 30% year-to-date.

There seems to be growing scepticism surrounding its long-term prospects. But are these fears justified? Or is this actually a buying opportunity for my portfolio? Let’s take a closer look

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What’s behind the falling Rolls-Royce share price?

With the bulk of its revenue originating from aerospace engine sales and maintenance, Covid-19 unsurprisingly punched the income stream in the face. Today, the situation has improved. And with flight volumes on the rise, demand for the firm’s services is following suit. So why isn’t the Roll-Royce share price climbing alongside these figures?

There are undoubtedly numerous factors at play. But the primary concern continues to surround the engineering group’s aerospace division. According to the latest investor presentation, Rolls-Royce’s order backlog currently stands at an impressive £50.6bn. And a good chunk of that comes from aircraft engine orders.

As of the end of March, the company had 1,532 of its Trent engines on the order book. Considering these propulsion systems have multi-million-pound price tags, that’s a lot of money.

Unfortunately, reports have emerged that AirAsia X has cancelled 63 A330neo aircraft orders with Airbus, due to financial problems. What does this have to do with Rolls-Royce? The A330neo is powered by two Trent 7000 engines. And if Airbus cannot find a new buyer, up to 126 engine order cancellations could be heading in Rolls-Royce’s direction.

Combining this new threat with existing concerns about the Ukrainian war, the sudden resignation of CEO Warren East, and rising interest rates, I’m not surprised to see the Rolls-Royce share price continue its descent.

There is a silver lining

As horrendous as all this sounds, there are some valid reasons to be optimistic. Firstly, following a rigorous restructuring of the business, the firm’s balance sheet has seen some major improvement.

There are still plenty of cracks to repair. And the net debt, including lease agreements, stands at a whopping £5.2bn. However, with £2bn of capital set to arrive courtesy of its announced non-core asset disposals, this financial position is expected to improve significantly.

Disposals are obviously a non-repeatable source of income and can take time to complete. Fortunately for Rolls-Royce and its share price, none of its loan maturities are due before 2024. That gives management two years to get cash flows back on track to cover the interest expenses of the remaining balance.

Will this happen? Only time will tell. But current managerial guidance indicates the group’s free cash flow will return to the black by the end of 2022. Needless to say, that would be excellent news for the Rolls-Royce share price.

Time to buy?

Despite what its share price would indicate, this business seems to be making solid progress in its recovery. The potentially looming order cancellations are concerning. But with plenty of other revenue avenues to explore, this appears to be a short-term hurdle rather than a long-term catastrophe.

So can the Rolls-Royce share price take off again? I certainly believe so. Having said that, I’m not tempted to add any shares to my portfolio simply because I think there are better investment opportunities elsewhere.

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Zaven Boyrazian has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Should you invest the value of your investment may rise or fall and your Capital is at Risk. Before investing your individual circumstances should be considered, so you should consider taking independent financial advice.

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