Is technotrans (ETR:TTR1) A Risky Investment?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
June 03, 2021
XTRA:TTR1
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. We note that technotrans SE (ETR:TTR1) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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 common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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.

See our latest analysis for technotrans

How Much Debt Does technotrans Carry?

As you can see below, technotrans had €39.3m of debt, at March 2021, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, it also had €28.0m in cash, and so its net debt is €11.2m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
XTRA:TTR1 Debt to Equity History June 4th 2021

A Look At technotrans' Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that technotrans had liabilities of €43.3m due within 12 months and liabilities of €32.1m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had €28.0m in cash and €25.8m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €21.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Of course, technotrans has a market capitalization of €181.3m, so these liabilities are probably manageable. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

technotrans has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.93. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 10.6 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. But the other side of the story is that technotrans saw its EBIT decline by 2.6% over the last year. That sort of decline, if sustained, will obviously make debt harder to handle. 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 technotrans 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 company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. In the last three years, technotrans's free cash flow amounted to 43% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

On our analysis technotrans's interest cover should signal that it won't have too much trouble with its debt. But the other factors we noted above weren't so encouraging. For instance it seems like it has to struggle a bit to grow its EBIT. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that technotrans is managing its debt quite well. But a word of caution: we think debt levels are high enough to justify ongoing monitoring. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with technotrans .

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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