- Medical Equipment
- CPSE:AMBU B
These 4 Measures Indicate That Ambu (CPH:AMBU B) Is Using Debt Extensively
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 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. We can see that Ambu A/S (CPH:AMBU B) does use debt in its business. 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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. 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 Ambu
What Is Ambu's Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at March 2022 Ambu had debt of kr.985.0m, up from kr.406.0m in one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of kr.112.0m, its net debt is less, at about kr.873.0m.
A Look At Ambu's Liabilities
According to the last reported balance sheet, Ambu had liabilities of kr.864.0m due within 12 months, and liabilities of kr.1.53b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of kr.112.0m as well as receivables valued at kr.739.0m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total kr.1.54b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
Given Ambu has a market capitalization of kr.22.0b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse.
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). 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).
Ambu has net debt to EBITDA of 2.7 suggesting it uses a fair bit of leverage to boost returns. But the high interest coverage of 8.1 suggests it can easily service that debt. Shareholders should be aware that Ambu's EBIT was down 58% 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 ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Ambu 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, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, Ambu burned a lot of cash. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.
On the face of it, Ambu's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow left us tentative about the stock, and its EBIT growth rate was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But on the bright side, its interest cover is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. It's also worth noting that Ambu is in the Medical Equipment industry, which is often considered to be quite defensive. Looking at the balance sheet and taking into account all these factors, we do believe that debt is making Ambu stock a bit risky. Some people like that sort of risk, but we're mindful of the potential pitfalls, so we'd probably prefer it carry less debt. 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 2 warning signs for Ambu 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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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.
About CPSE:AMBU B
Ambu A/S develops, produces, and sells medical devices to hospitals, clinics, and rescue services worldwide.
Excellent balance sheet with reasonable growth potential.