Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Laboratorio Reig Jofre (BME:RJF) Is Using Debt Extensively

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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. As with many other companies Laboratorio Reig Jofre, S.A. (BME:RJF) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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 Laboratorio Reig Jofre

What Is Laboratorio Reig Jofre's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Laboratorio Reig Jofre had debt of €51.1m at the end of September 2022, a reduction from €53.4m over a year. However, because it has a cash reserve of €12.1m, its net debt is less, at about €39.0m.

BME:RJF Debt to Equity History February 2nd 2023

A Look At Laboratorio Reig Jofre's Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Laboratorio Reig Jofre had liabilities of €82.4m falling due within a year, and liabilities of €55.2m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €12.1m as well as receivables valued at €50.9m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by €74.7m.

This deficit isn't so bad because Laboratorio Reig Jofre is worth €209.4m, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Laboratorio Reig Jofre's net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 1.7 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 6.8 times last year. In large part that's due to the company's significant depreciation and amortisation charges, which arguably mean its EBITDA is a very generous measure of earnings, and its debt may be more of a burden than it first appears. But the bad news is that Laboratorio Reig Jofre has seen its EBIT plunge 10% in the last twelve months. 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 ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Laboratorio Reig Jofre 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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, Laboratorio Reig Jofre saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

Mulling over Laboratorio Reig Jofre's attempt at converting EBIT to free cash flow, we're certainly not enthusiastic. But at least it's pretty decent at covering its interest expense with its EBIT; that's encouraging. Once we consider all the factors above, together, it seems to us that Laboratorio Reig Jofre's debt is making it a bit risky. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we'd generally feel more comfortable with less leverage. 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. Be aware that Laboratorio Reig Jofre is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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