Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. Importantly, Shagrir Group Vehicle Services Ltd (TLV:SHGR) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.
As you can see below, Shagrir Group Vehicle Services had ₪130.1m of debt at June 2023, down from ₪150.0m a year prior. However, it also had ₪6.72m in cash, and so its net debt is ₪123.4m.
We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Shagrir Group Vehicle Services had liabilities of ₪173.6m falling due within a year, and liabilities of ₪165.7m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of ₪6.72m and ₪95.8m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total ₪236.7m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
The deficiency here weighs heavily on the ₪57.4m company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. After all, Shagrir Group Vehicle Services would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.
We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
Weak interest cover of 0.89 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 6.1 hit our confidence in Shagrir Group Vehicle Services like a one-two punch to the gut. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Even worse, Shagrir Group Vehicle Services saw its EBIT tank 64% over the last 12 months. If earnings keep going like that over the long term, it has a snowball's chance in hell of paying off that debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Shagrir Group Vehicle Services will need earnings to service that debt. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.
Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Shagrir Group Vehicle Services actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.
On the face of it, Shagrir Group Vehicle Services's EBIT growth rate left us tentative about the stock, and its level of total liabilities was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But on the bright side, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. After considering the datapoints discussed, we think Shagrir Group Vehicle Services has too much debt. That sort of riskiness is ok for some, but it certainly doesn't float our boat. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for Shagrir Group Vehicle Services (of which 2 shouldn't be ignored!) you should know about.
When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.