Viscofan (BME:VIS) Has A Rock Solid Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 24, 2021
BME:VIS
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. We can see that Viscofan, S.A. (BME:VIS) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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.

View our latest analysis for Viscofan

What Is Viscofan's Debt?

As you can see below, Viscofan had €128.2m of debt at September 2021, down from €135.9m a year prior. On the flip side, it has €123.5m in cash leading to net debt of about €4.64m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
BME:VIS Debt to Equity History November 24th 2021

How Healthy Is Viscofan's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Viscofan had liabilities of €168.0m due within 12 months, and liabilities of €152.3m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €123.5m as well as receivables valued at €214.3m due within 12 months. So it actually has €17.6m more liquid assets than total liabilities.

Having regard to Viscofan's size, it seems that its liquid assets are well balanced with its total liabilities. So it's very unlikely that the €2.70b company is short on cash, but still worth keeping an eye on the balance sheet. Carrying virtually no net debt, Viscofan has a very light debt load indeed.

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).

With debt at a measly 0.019 times EBITDA and EBIT covering interest a whopping 6k times, it's clear that Viscofan is not a desperate borrower. Indeed relative to its earnings its debt load seems light as a feather. Another good sign is that Viscofan has been able to increase its EBIT by 20% in twelve months, making it easier to pay down debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Viscofan'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 the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Viscofan recorded free cash flow worth 77% 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

Happily, Viscofan's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And the good news does not stop there, as its net debt to EBITDA also supports that impression! We think Viscofan is no more beholden to its lenders, than the birds are to birdwatchers. To our minds it has a healthy happy balance sheet. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Viscofan .

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.

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.

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Simply Wall St

Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.