Does Givaudan (VTX:GIVN) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 08, 2022
SWX:GIVN
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. We note that Givaudan SA (VTX:GIVN) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. 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. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Givaudan

What Is Givaudan's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at December 2021 Givaudan had debt of CHF4.26b, up from CHF4.04b in one year. On the flip side, it has CHF277.0m in cash leading to net debt of about CHF3.99b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SWX:GIVN Debt to Equity History May 8th 2022

How Strong Is Givaudan's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Givaudan had liabilities of CHF2.32b due within 12 months, and liabilities of CHF5.16b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of CHF277.0m and CHF1.67b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CHF5.53b.

Of course, Givaudan has a titanic market capitalization of CHF33.3b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Givaudan's net debt is 2.8 times its EBITDA, which is a significant but still reasonable amount of leverage. However, its interest coverage of 13.6 is very high, suggesting that the interest expense on the debt is currently quite low. We saw Givaudan grow its EBIT by 6.6% in the last twelve months. Whilst that hardly knocks our socks off it is a positive when it comes to debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Givaudan'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 the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. During the last three years, Givaudan generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 92% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Our View

Happily, Givaudan's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But truth be told we feel its net debt to EBITDA does undermine this impression a bit. Taking all this data into account, it seems to us that Givaudan takes a pretty sensible approach to debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Givaudan you should know about.

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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