In Italy, the territory that includes the Emilia-Romagna region, the southern areas of Lombardia and some of Piemonte's territory is a center of national importance for tomato production and transformation. The processing firms operating in this area are characterized by significant investments in fixed assets and working capital. The article analyzes the annual account data of a sample of firms, showing that economic margins traditionally applied to assess the sustainability of the business cycle differ significantly from financial margins; also, the Interest Coverage Ratios (ICRs) differ if calculated by applying an economic or a financial approach. Moreover, the annual account data highlight difficult credit access, expressed by applying a multiple regression model to analyze Free Cash Flow to Equity (FCFE) generation. The article suggests a useful metric to measure more correctly the sustainability of a firm's management that could be applied to others in the agri-food sector, particularly if characterized by a capital-intensive processing cycle.
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