We Think Scout24 (ETR:G24) Can Manage Its Debt With Ease

By
Simply Wall St
Published
July 25, 2021
XTRA:G24
Source: Shutterstock

Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' 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. Importantly, Scout24 AG (ETR:G24) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. 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 thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Scout24

What Is Scout24's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Scout24 had €195.1m of debt in March 2021, down from €570.9m, one year before. But on the other hand it also has €1.70b in cash, leading to a €1.50b net cash position.

debt-equity-history-analysis
XTRA:G24 Debt to Equity History July 25th 2021

How Strong Is Scout24's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Scout24 had liabilities of €132.5m due within a year, and liabilities of €503.1m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of €1.70b and €24.2m worth of receivables due within a year. So it can boast €1.09b more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This surplus suggests that Scout24 is using debt in a way that is appears to be both safe and conservative. Because it has plenty of assets, it is unlikely to have trouble with its lenders. Simply put, the fact that Scout24 has more cash than debt is arguably a good indication that it can manage its debt safely.

Also good is that Scout24 grew its EBIT at 18% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage 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 Scout24'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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. While Scout24 has net cash on its balance sheet, it's still worth taking a look at its ability to convert earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, to help us understand how quickly it is building (or eroding) that cash balance. Happily for any shareholders, Scout24 actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Summing up

While it is always sensible to investigate a company's debt, in this case Scout24 has €1.50b in net cash and a decent-looking balance sheet. The cherry on top was that in converted 112% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in €24m. So we don't think Scout24's use of debt is risky. 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. Be aware that Scout24 is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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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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