These 4 Measures Indicate That Minerva (BVMF:BEEF3) Is Using Debt Extensively

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 18, 2022
BOVESPA:BEEF3
Source: Shutterstock

Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' 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. We can see that Minerva S.A. (BVMF:BEEF3) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. 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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Minerva

How Much Debt Does Minerva Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of December 2021, Minerva had R$13.4b of debt, up from R$11.6b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it also had R$7.30b in cash, and so its net debt is R$6.10b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
BOVESPA:BEEF3 Debt to Equity History March 18th 2022

A Look At Minerva's Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Minerva had liabilities of R$7.24b falling due within a year, and liabilities of R$12.2b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of R$7.30b as well as receivables valued at R$3.88b due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling R$8.23b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Given this deficit is actually higher than the company's market capitalization of R$6.85b, we think shareholders really should watch Minerva's debt levels, like a parent watching their child ride a bike for the first time. In the scenario where the company had to clean up its balance sheet quickly, it seems likely shareholders would suffer extensive dilution.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

While Minerva's debt to EBITDA ratio (2.6) suggests that it uses some debt, its interest cover is very weak, at 2.2, suggesting high leverage. It seems clear that the cost of borrowing money is negatively impacting returns for shareholders, of late. One way Minerva could vanquish its debt would be if it stops borrowing more but continues to grow EBIT at around 14%, as it did over the last year. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Minerva 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 we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, Minerva actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

Minerva's interest cover and level of total liabilities definitely weigh on it, in our esteem. But the good news is it seems to be able to convert EBIT to free cash flow with ease. We think that Minerva's debt does make it a bit risky, after considering the aforementioned data points together. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. 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 Minerva has 5 warning signs (and 1 which is concerning) we think you should know about.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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