Stock Analysis

Coloplast (CPH:COLO B) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

CPSE:COLO B
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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. As with many other companies Coloplast A/S (CPH:COLO B) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

Check out our latest analysis for Coloplast

What Is Coloplast's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at December 2022 Coloplast had debt of kr.21.3b, up from kr.4.44b in one year. On the flip side, it has kr.881.0m in cash leading to net debt of about kr.20.4b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
CPSE:COLO B Debt to Equity History March 22nd 2023

How Healthy Is Coloplast's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Coloplast had liabilities of kr.10.5b due within 12 months, and liabilities of kr.18.8b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of kr.881.0m and kr.4.60b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by kr.23.8b.

Of course, Coloplast has a titanic market capitalization of kr.177.2b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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).

Coloplast's net debt is 2.6 times its EBITDA, which is a significant but still reasonable amount of leverage. However, its interest coverage of 27.3 is very high, suggesting that the interest expense on the debt is currently quite low. We saw Coloplast grow its EBIT by 9.0% in the last twelve months. That's far from incredible but it is a good thing, when it comes to paying off debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Coloplast can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Coloplast recorded free cash flow worth 54% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

The good news is that Coloplast's demonstrated ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its net debt to EBITDA. It's also worth noting that Coloplast is in the Medical Equipment industry, which is often considered to be quite defensive. When we consider the range of factors above, it looks like Coloplast is pretty sensible with its use of debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Coloplast (1 is a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

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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.