Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Echeverría Izquierdo (SNSE:EISA) Is Using Debt In A Risky Way

SNSE:EISA
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Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. Importantly, Echeverría Izquierdo S.A. (SNSE:EISA) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Echeverría Izquierdo

What Is Echeverría Izquierdo's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of March 2021 Echeverría Izquierdo had CL$134.1b of debt, an increase on CL$111.4b, over one year. On the flip side, it has CL$34.7b in cash leading to net debt of about CL$99.4b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SNSE:EISA Debt to Equity History July 15th 2021

How Healthy Is Echeverría Izquierdo's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Echeverría Izquierdo had liabilities of CL$203.1b due within 12 months and liabilities of CL$69.9b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of CL$34.7b and CL$48.2b worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling CL$190.0b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This deficit casts a shadow over the CL$97.5b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, Echeverría Izquierdo would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Echeverría Izquierdo shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (6.5), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 1.9 times the interest expense. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Even worse, Echeverría Izquierdo saw its EBIT tank 63% over the last 12 months. If earnings continue to follow that trajectory, paying off that debt load will be harder than convincing us to run a marathon in the rain. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is Echeverría Izquierdo's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. In the last three years, Echeverría Izquierdo's free cash flow amounted to 24% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

To be frank both Echeverría Izquierdo's EBIT growth rate and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. And even its interest cover fails to inspire much confidence. We think the chances that Echeverría Izquierdo has too much debt a very significant. To our minds, that means the stock is rather high risk, and probably one to avoid; but to each their own (investing) style. 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 4 warning signs for Echeverría Izquierdo you should be aware of, and 1 of them is significant.

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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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