Is INDUS Holding (ETR:INH) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 15, 2022
XTRA:INH
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 note that INDUS Holding AG (ETR:INH) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

Check out our latest analysis for INDUS Holding

What Is INDUS Holding's Net Debt?

As you can see below, INDUS Holding had €600.1m of debt at September 2021, down from €670.5m a year prior. However, because it has a cash reserve of €161.2m, its net debt is less, at about €438.9m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
XTRA:INH Debt to Equity History March 15th 2022

A Look At INDUS Holding's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that INDUS Holding had liabilities of €485.5m due within 12 months and liabilities of €637.0m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €161.2m as well as receivables valued at €221.8m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €739.4m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit is considerable relative to its market capitalization of €833.8m, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on INDUS Holding's use of debt. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry.

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.

INDUS Holding's net debt of 2.3 times EBITDA suggests graceful use of debt. And the fact that its trailing twelve months of EBIT was 7.5 times its interest expenses harmonizes with that theme. Importantly, INDUS Holding grew its EBIT by 55% 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 INDUS Holding's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, INDUS Holding recorded free cash flow worth 67% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

When it comes to the balance sheet, the standout positive for INDUS Holding was the fact that it seems able to grow its EBIT confidently. But the other factors we noted above weren't so encouraging. For example, its level of total liabilities makes us a little nervous about its debt. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that INDUS Holding is managing its debt quite well. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example - INDUS Holding has 3 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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