These 4 Measures Indicate That Kelsian Group (ASX:KLS) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well

Published
June 25, 2022
ASX:KLS
Source: Shutterstock

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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 Kelsian Group Limited (ASX:KLS) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. Of course, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Kelsian Group

What Is Kelsian Group's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2021 Kelsian Group had AU$384.2m of debt, an increase on AU$304.6m, over one year. However, it does have AU$108.4m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about AU$275.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
ASX:KLS Debt to Equity History June 25th 2022

A Look At Kelsian Group's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Kelsian Group had liabilities of AU$321.2m due within 12 months, and liabilities of AU$573.6m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of AU$108.4m as well as receivables valued at AU$112.2m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total AU$674.1m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Kelsian Group has a market capitalization of AU$1.29b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

While Kelsian Group's debt to EBITDA ratio (2.7) suggests that it uses some debt, its interest cover is very weak, at 2.3, suggesting high leverage. It seems that the business incurs large depreciation and amortisation charges, so maybe its debt load is heavier than it would first appear, since EBITDA is arguably a generous measure of earnings. So shareholders should probably be aware that interest expenses appear to have really impacted the business lately. Looking on the bright side, Kelsian Group boosted its EBIT by a silky 34% in the last year. Like a mother's loving embrace of a newborn that sort of growth builds resilience, putting the company in a stronger position to manage its debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Kelsian Group can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

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. Over the last three years, Kelsian Group actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

The good news is that Kelsian Group's demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. But we must concede we find its interest cover has the opposite effect. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Kelsian Group can handle its debt fairly comfortably. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. 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. Be aware that Kelsian Group is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is significant...

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.

Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.

Make Confident Investment Decisions

Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.