Evonik Industries (ETR:EVK) Has A Pretty Healthy Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
December 30, 2021
XTRA:EVK
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.' 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. As with many other companies Evonik Industries AG (ETR:EVK) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Evonik Industries

What Is Evonik Industries's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Evonik Industries had €3.86b of debt in September 2021, down from €4.57b, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of €1.20b, its net debt is less, at about €2.66b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
XTRA:EVK Debt to Equity History December 30th 2021

A Look At Evonik Industries' Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that Evonik Industries had liabilities of €3.57b due within a year, and liabilities of €8.87b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had €1.20b in cash and €2.01b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling €9.23b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This is a mountain of leverage even relative to its gargantuan market capitalization of €13.3b. 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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Evonik Industries's net debt is only 1.2 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 12.4 times over. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. Also positive, Evonik Industries grew its EBIT by 25% in the last year, and that should make it easier to pay down debt, going forward. 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 Evonik Industries'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, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Evonik Industries produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 72% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Evonik Industries's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its level of total liabilities. Taking all this data into account, it seems to us that Evonik Industries 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. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Evonik Industries 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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