These 4 Measures Indicate That DIC Asset (ETR:DIC) Is Using Debt Extensively

Published
June 14, 2022
XTRA:DIC
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Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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, DIC Asset AG (ETR:DIC) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free 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. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for DIC Asset

What Is DIC Asset's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of March 2022 DIC Asset had €2.45b of debt, an increase on €1.58b, over one year. However, it does have €452.3m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about €2.00b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
XTRA:DIC Debt to Equity History June 14th 2022

How Healthy Is DIC Asset's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, DIC Asset had liabilities of €497.7m due within 12 months, and liabilities of €2.20b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had €452.3m in cash and €361.4m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €1.89b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit casts a shadow over the €946.3m company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, DIC Asset would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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.

DIC Asset shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (14.7), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 1.8 times the interest expense. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. However, one redeeming factor is that DIC Asset grew its EBIT at 10% over the last 12 months, boosting its ability to handle its debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine DIC Asset'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 the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, DIC Asset recorded free cash flow worth 71% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

On the face of it, DIC Asset's net debt to EBITDA left us tentative about the stock, and its level of total liabilities was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But at least it's pretty decent at converting EBIT to free cash flow; that's encouraging. Overall, we think it's fair to say that DIC Asset has enough debt that there are some real risks around the balance sheet. If all goes well, that should boost returns, but on the flip side, the risk of permanent capital loss is elevated by the debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 5 warning signs for DIC Asset (of which 2 are a bit unpleasant!) you should know about.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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About XTRA:DIC

DIC Asset

DIC Asset AG is one of Germany's leading listed property companies, and specialises in commercial real estate.

Established dividend payer with questionable track record.