- Oil and Gas
These 4 Measures Indicate That Repsol (BME:REP) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well
Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a 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, Repsol, S.A. (BME:REP) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
When Is Debt A Problem?
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. 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 Repsol
What Is Repsol's Debt?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Repsol had €10.8b of debt in December 2022, down from €11.8b, one year before. On the flip side, it has €10.1b in cash leading to net debt of about €685.0m.
How Strong Is Repsol's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Repsol had liabilities of €16.9b due within a year, and liabilities of €17.1b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of €10.1b and €8.53b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total €15.4b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This deficit is considerable relative to its very significant market capitalization of €18.9b, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on Repsol's use of debt. 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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
Repsol has very little debt (net of cash), and boasts a debt to EBITDA ratio of 0.069 and EBIT of 43.8 times the interest expense. So relative to past earnings, the debt load seems trivial. In addition to that, we're happy to report that Repsol has boosted its EBIT by 98%, thus reducing the spectre of future debt repayments. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Repsol'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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last two years, Repsol produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 57% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.
The good news is that Repsol'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 level of total liabilities. Taking all this data into account, it seems to us that Repsol takes a pretty sensible approach to debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. 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. We've identified 3 warning signs with Repsol (at least 1 which makes us a bit uncomfortable) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
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.
Repsol, S.A. operates as an integrated energy company worldwide.
Flawless balance sheet with acceptable track record.