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.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt - which is usually involved in bankruptcies - is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. Importantly, InTiCa Systems AG (ETR:IS7) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
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. 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
How Much Debt Does InTiCa Systems Carry?
As you can see below, at the end of December 2021, InTiCa Systems had €20.8m of debt, up from €18.4m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of €2.75m, its net debt is less, at about €18.0m.
How Strong Is InTiCa Systems' Balance Sheet?
According to the last reported balance sheet, InTiCa Systems had liabilities of €23.4m due within 12 months, and liabilities of €15.4m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had €2.75m in cash and €8.98m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €27.0m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of €43.5m. 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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.
InTiCa Systems's debt is 2.8 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 5.0 times over. Taken together this implies that, while we wouldn't want to see debt levels rise, we think it can handle its current leverage. Importantly, InTiCa Systems grew its EBIT by 38% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine InTiCa Systems'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 we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, InTiCa Systems 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.
Happily, InTiCa Systems's impressive conversion of EBIT to free cash flow implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But truth be told we feel its level of total liabilities does undermine this impression a bit. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that InTiCa Systems can handle its debt fairly comfortably. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with InTiCa Systems (including 1 which is potentially serious) .
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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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.