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The Rolls-Royce share price: 3 things that could give it a boost

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The one thing that really could give Rolls-Royce (LSE: RR) a boost is an end to travel restrictions. But the reverse is happening right now amid a Covid-19 Delta variant surge. As a result, the Rolls-Royce share price ended Monday down 5.6%, as travel-related stocks declined across the board.

Rather than opening up to British travellers, Spain and Portugal have both announced new restrictions. They include the need for vaccination certificates and negative tests, with quarantine as an alternative. Rolls-Royce isn’t the only one suffering, as TUI, International Consolidated Airlines, and the other airlines have all lost ground.

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We might see some respite should the UK’s restrictions end as hoped on 19 July. But while we still face continually changing pandemic uncertainty, I really can’t see the Rolls-Royce share price getting that one boost that it really needs just yet.

Still, pandemic problems will surely only delay the Rolls recovery, won’t they? I mean, that recovery is sure to come, isn’t it? I’m convinced there will be a recovery, but I’m concerned over how long it will take. And the shape of the company that comes out of it could have an impact on Rolls’ long-term valuation.

Debt, balance sheet

What I’m getting at here is the balance sheet. And progress on that front is the next thing that I think could help the Rolls-Royce share price. Rolls is disposing of its Spanish subsidiary ITP Aero, for around €1.5bn, and that will surely help.

The rescue package at Rolls got the company out of its crisis. But it involved taking on £7.3bn in new debt in the 2020 year. I think that’s manageable, providing the company can maintain sufficient liquidity to keep it going until the cash flow taps start opening again. If it can’t, we could see a further round of fundraising. And that would surely hammer the share price again.

Right now, we’re looking at a race between Rolls-Royce’s business turnaround and the cash running out. The closer we get to knowing which will win, the greater the effect we should see on the share price.

Rolls-Royce share price, medium term

These are two nebulous issues, so is there anything more concrete? Well, first-half results are due on 5 August. And I expect the update will be one of the most keenly awaited in the FTSE 100 this year. And everyone will presumably be looking to the state of the firm’s balance sheet.

With flying hours hardly changed so far this year, I’ll be looking for anything suggesting that possible further refinancing is on the cards. I’ll be hoping we don’t get it, and looking for upbeat outlook news. If the company makes optimistic noises regarding its balance sheet, and appears confident that it has enough liquidity, I think the shares could get a boost.

I do see a strong long-term future for the company. But in the short-to-medium term, I fear events are more likely to have a negative effect than positive. I will not buy for now.

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Alan Oscroft 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.

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