Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That BRP (TSE:DOO) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well

TSX:DOO
Source: Shutterstock

David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' 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 can see that BRP Inc. (TSE:DOO) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. 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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for BRP

What Is BRP's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at April 2023 BRP had debt of CA$2.86b, up from CA$2.43b in one year. On the flip side, it has CA$213.0m in cash leading to net debt of about CA$2.65b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:DOO Debt to Equity History September 8th 2023

A Look At BRP's Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that BRP had liabilities of CA$2.65b falling due within a year, and liabilities of CA$3.48b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had CA$213.0m in cash and CA$650.8m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total CA$5.27b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of CA$7.77b. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe dilution.

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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

We'd say that BRP's moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 1.5), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its strong interest cover of 10.9 times, makes us even more comfortable. On top of that, BRP grew its EBIT by 38% 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 BRP'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, 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. In the last three years, BRP's free cash flow amounted to 24% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

BRP's EBIT growth rate was a real positive on this analysis, as was its interest cover. Having said that, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow somewhat sensitizes us to potential future risks to the balance sheet. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that BRP is managing its debt quite well. But a word of caution: we think debt levels are high enough to justify ongoing monitoring. 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. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for BRP that you should be aware of.

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.

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

Find out whether BRP 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.

View the Free Analysis

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.