Stock Analysis

Pental (ASX:PTL) Seems To Use Debt Rather Sparingly

ASX:PTL
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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.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. As with many other companies Pental Limited (ASX:PTL) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Pental

What Is Pental's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of June 2022, Pental had AU$3.91m of debt, up from AU$81.0k a year ago. Click the image for more detail. But on the other hand it also has AU$8.13m in cash, leading to a AU$4.22m net cash position.

debt-equity-history-analysis
ASX:PTL Debt to Equity History December 20th 2022

A Look At Pental's Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that Pental had liabilities of AU$25.6m due within a year, and liabilities of AU$7.85m falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of AU$8.13m as well as receivables valued at AU$17.4m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling AU$7.94m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Since publicly traded Pental shares are worth a total of AU$60.5m, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse. While it does have liabilities worth noting, Pental also has more cash than debt, so we're pretty confident it can manage its debt safely.

On top of that, Pental grew its EBIT by 32% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Pental's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. Pental 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. Over the last three years, Pental actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Summing Up

Although Pental's balance sheet isn't particularly strong, due to the total liabilities, it is clearly positive to see that it has net cash of AU$4.22m. And it impressed us with free cash flow of AU$7.7m, being 107% of its EBIT. So is Pental's debt a risk? It doesn't seem so to us. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. 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 2 warning signs for Pental 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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Prestal Holdings is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.