Delticom (ETR:DEX) Has A Somewhat Strained Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 12, 2022
XTRA:DEX
Source: Shutterstock

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.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. As with many other companies Delticom AG (ETR:DEX) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Delticom

How Much Debt Does Delticom Carry?

As you can see below, Delticom had €10.3m of debt at December 2021, down from €36.1m a year prior. However, because it has a cash reserve of €4.87m, its net debt is less, at about €5.42m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
XTRA:DEX Debt to Equity History May 12th 2022

How Healthy Is Delticom's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Delticom had liabilities of €132.1m due within a year, and liabilities of €47.4m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had €4.87m in cash and €39.6m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €135.0m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the €44.2m company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. At the end of the day, Delticom 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.

Delticom has a very low debt to EBITDA ratio of 0.86 so it is strange to see weak interest coverage, with last year's EBIT being only 2.2 times the interest expense. So while we're not necessarily alarmed we think that its debt is far from trivial. One way Delticom could vanquish its debt would be if it stops borrowing more but continues to grow EBIT at around 11%, as it did over the last year. 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 Delticom 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 the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Delticom actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last two years. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

Neither Delticom's ability to handle its total liabilities nor its interest cover gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow tells a very different story, and suggests some resilience. When we consider all the factors discussed, it seems to us that Delticom is taking some risks with its use of debt. So while that leverage does boost returns on equity, we wouldn't really want to see it increase from here. 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 Delticom is showing 4 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...

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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