Andritz (VIE:ANDR) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 10, 2022
WBAG:ANDR
Source: Shutterstock

The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt - which is usually involved in bankruptcies - is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. As with many other companies Andritz AG (VIE:ANDR) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Andritz

What Is Andritz's Net Debt?

As you can see below, Andritz had €1.06b of debt at March 2022, down from €1.29b a year prior. However, its balance sheet shows it holds €1.91b in cash, so it actually has €849.9m net cash.

debt-equity-history-analysis
WBAG:ANDR Debt to Equity History May 10th 2022

How Strong Is Andritz's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Andritz had liabilities of €4.41b due within 12 months, and liabilities of €1.88b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €1.91b as well as receivables valued at €2.32b due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling €2.05b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Andritz has a market capitalization of €3.85b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk. While it does have liabilities worth noting, Andritz also has more cash than debt, so we're pretty confident it can manage its debt safely.

Also good is that Andritz grew its EBIT at 17% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Andritz can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. Andritz may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. Happily for any shareholders, Andritz actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Summing up

While Andritz does have more liabilities than liquid assets, it also has net cash of €849.9m. And it impressed us with free cash flow of €563m, being 200% of its EBIT. So is Andritz's debt a risk? It doesn't seem so to us. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example - Andritz has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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