Stock Analysis

Marisa Lojas (BVMF:AMAR3) Has A Somewhat Strained Balance Sheet

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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.' 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. Importantly, Marisa Lojas S.A. (BVMF:AMAR3) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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 Marisa Lojas

How Much Debt Does Marisa Lojas Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Marisa Lojas had R$860.1m of debt in September 2022, down from R$906.1m, one year before. However, it also had R$216.3m in cash, and so its net debt is R$643.8m.

BOVESPA:AMAR3 Debt to Equity History March 24th 2023

How Strong Is Marisa Lojas' Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Marisa Lojas had liabilities of R$1.21b due within a year, and liabilities of R$1.40b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had R$216.3m in cash and R$1.01b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total R$1.39b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit casts a shadow over the R$209.0m company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, Marisa Lojas would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Marisa Lojas shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (14.5), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 0.15 times the interest expense. The debt burden here is substantial. Worse, Marisa Lojas's EBIT was down 39% over the last year. If earnings keep going like that over the long term, it has a snowball's chance in hell of paying off that 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 Marisa Lojas 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, 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 two years, Marisa Lojas 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

To be frank both Marisa Lojas's EBIT growth rate and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least it's pretty decent at converting EBIT to free cash flow; that's encouraging. Taking into account all the aforementioned factors, it looks like Marisa Lojas has too much debt. While some investors love that sort of risky play, it's certainly not our cup of tea. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Marisa Lojas you should be aware of, and 1 of them is concerning.

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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