Stock Analysis

We Think Brødrene Hartmann (CPH:HART) Is Taking Some Risk With Its Debt

  •  Updated
CPSE:HART
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.' 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. As with many other companies Brødrene Hartmann A/S (CPH:HART) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Brødrene Hartmann

What Is Brødrene Hartmann's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at September 2021 Brødrene Hartmann had debt of kr.873.6m, up from kr.553.1m in one year. However, it does have kr.105.4m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about kr.768.2m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
CPSE:HART Debt to Equity History March 8th 2022

How Strong Is Brødrene Hartmann's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Brødrene Hartmann had liabilities of kr.641.9m due within a year, and liabilities of kr.882.2m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of kr.105.4m and kr.524.3m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by kr.894.4m.

This deficit isn't so bad because Brødrene Hartmann is worth kr.1.94b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.

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.

We'd say that Brødrene Hartmann's moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 1.6), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its strong interest cover of 27.5 times, makes us even more comfortable. On the other hand, Brødrene Hartmann's EBIT dived 17%, over the last year. We think hat kind of performance, if repeated frequently, could well lead to difficulties for the stock. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Brødrene Hartmann'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 always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, Brødrene Hartmann reported free cash flow worth 19% of its EBIT, which is really quite low. That limp level of cash conversion undermines its ability to manage and pay down debt.

Our View

Brødrene Hartmann's EBIT growth rate and conversion of EBIT to free cash flow definitely weigh on it, in our esteem. But its interest cover tells a very different story, and suggests some resilience. When we consider all the factors discussed, it seems to us that Brødrene Hartmann is taking some risks with its use of debt. While that debt can boost returns, we think the company has enough leverage now. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for Brødrene Hartmann you should be aware of, and 1 of them is potentially serious.

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.

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

Find out whether Brødrene Hartmann is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

View the Free Analysis