Is Grand City Properties (ETR:GYC) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 27, 2021
XTRA:GYC
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. As with many other companies Grand City Properties S.A. (ETR:GYC) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

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 thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Grand City Properties

What Is Grand City Properties's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Grand City Properties had debt of €4.21b at the end of June 2021, a reduction from €4.44b over a year. However, it also had €1.35b in cash, and so its net debt is €2.86b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
XTRA:GYC Debt to Equity History September 28th 2021

A Look At Grand City Properties' Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Grand City Properties had liabilities of €751.7m falling due within a year, and liabilities of €4.77b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €1.35b as well as receivables valued at €482.4m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €3.68b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of €3.76b. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe dilution.

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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Grand City Properties has a rather high debt to EBITDA ratio of 9.5 which suggests a meaningful debt load. However, its interest coverage of 5.8 is reasonably strong, which is a good sign. Importantly Grand City Properties's EBIT was essentially flat over the last twelve months. We would prefer to see some earnings growth, because that always helps diminish debt. 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 Grand City Properties can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Grand City Properties produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 78% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

Grand City Properties's struggle handle its debt, based on its EBITDA, had us second guessing its balance sheet strength, but the other data-points we considered were relatively redeeming. In particular, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was re-invigorating. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Grand City Properties is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Grand City Properties (of which 1 is significant!) 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.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

If you're looking to trade Grand City Properties, open an account with the lowest-cost* platform trusted by professionals, Interactive Brokers. Their clients from over 200 countries and territories trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account.Promoted

Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.


Simply Wall St character - Warren

Simply Wall St

Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.