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Here's Why Petrol AD (BUL:PET) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden
Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. We note that Petrol AD (BUL:PET) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
What Risk Does Debt Bring?
Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
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What Is Petrol AD's Debt?
As you can see below, at the end of December 2022, Petrol AD had лв51.0m of debt, up from лв42.9m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it also had лв8.73m in cash, and so its net debt is лв42.3m.
A Look At Petrol AD's Liabilities
The latest balance sheet data shows that Petrol AD had liabilities of лв79.7m due within a year, and liabilities of лв92.0m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of лв8.73m and лв55.0m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling лв107.9m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
This deficit casts a shadow over the лв6.72m company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, Petrol AD 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.
While Petrol AD's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.3 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 4.2 times last year does give us pause. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. Notably, Petrol AD made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, but improved that to positive EBIT of лв19m in the last twelve months. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Petrol AD will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.
But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. In the last year, Petrol AD created free cash flow amounting to 12% of its EBIT, an uninspiring performance. For us, cash conversion that low sparks a little paranoia about is ability to extinguish debt.
Mulling over Petrol AD's attempt at staying on top of its total liabilities, we're certainly not enthusiastic. But on the bright side, its net debt to EBITDA is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Overall, it seems to us that Petrol AD's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. For this reason we're pretty cautious about the stock, and we think shareholders should keep a close eye on its liquidity. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For instance, we've identified 5 warning signs for Petrol AD that you should be aware of.
Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.
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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.
Petrol AD engages in the storage, wholesale, and retail sale of fuels and petroleum products in Bulgaria.
Good value with mediocre balance sheet.