Here's Why Müller - Die lila Logistik (ETR:MLL) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

By
Simply Wall St
Published
June 06, 2021
XTRA:MLL
Source: Shutterstock

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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. We can see that Müller - Die lila Logistik AG (ETR:MLL) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Müller - Die lila Logistik

How Much Debt Does Müller - Die lila Logistik Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Müller - Die lila Logistik had debt of €18.6m at the end of December 2020, a reduction from €21.8m over a year. However, because it has a cash reserve of €11.3m, its net debt is less, at about €7.32m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
XTRA:MLL Debt to Equity History June 7th 2021

How Strong Is Müller - Die lila Logistik's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Müller - Die lila Logistik had liabilities of €37.4m due within a year, and liabilities of €61.8m falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €11.3m as well as receivables valued at €17.3m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling €70.6m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's €52.1m market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. Hypothetically, extremely heavy dilution would be required if the company were forced to pay down its liabilities by raising capital at the current share price.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Given net debt is only 1.1 times EBITDA, it is initially surprising to see that Müller - Die lila Logistik's EBIT has low interest coverage of 2.0 times. So while we're not necessarily alarmed we think that its debt is far from trivial. Shareholders should be aware that Müller - Die lila Logistik's EBIT was down 42% last year. If that decline continues then paying off debt will be harder than selling foie gras at a vegan convention. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Müller - Die lila Logistik's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. 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, Müller - Die lila Logistik actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

To be frank both Müller - Die lila Logistik's interest cover and its track record of (not) growing its EBIT make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But on the bright side, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Overall, we think it's fair to say that Müller - Die lila Logistik 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. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Müller - Die lila Logistik (1 shouldn't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

When trading Müller - Die lila Logistik or any other investment, use the platform considered by many to be the Professional's Gateway to the Worlds Market, Interactive Brokers. You get the lowest-cost* trading on 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.

Make Confident Investment Decisions

Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.