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.' 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. Importantly, Galenica AG (VTX:GALE) does carry debt. 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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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.
How Much Debt Does Galenica Carry?
As you can see below, Galenica had CHF424.4m of debt at June 2022, down from CHF520.0m a year prior. On the flip side, it has CHF21.0m in cash leading to net debt of about CHF403.5m.
How Healthy Is Galenica's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Galenica had liabilities of CHF835.0m due within a year, and liabilities of CHF456.4m falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of CHF21.0m as well as receivables valued at CHF533.4m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total CHF737.0m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
Galenica has a market capitalization of CHF3.40b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.
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). 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 Galenica's moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 1.7), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its commanding EBIT of 45.4 times its interest expense, implies the debt load is as light as a peacock feather. Fortunately, Galenica grew its EBIT by 9.9% in the last year, making that debt load look even more manageable. 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 Galenica 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, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Galenica actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.
Galenica's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is also very heartening. It's also worth noting that Galenica is in the Healthcare industry, which is often considered to be quite defensive. Zooming out, Galenica seems to use debt quite reasonably; and that gets the nod from us. After all, sensible leverage can boost returns on equity. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Galenica you should be aware of.
If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.
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Galenica AG operates as a healthcare service provider in Switzerland and internationally.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
|Analysis Area||Score (0-6)|
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Excellent balance sheet and good value.