The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says '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. As with many other companies Amadeus IT Group, S.A. (BME:AMS) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
What Risk Does Debt Bring?
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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.
How Much Debt Does Amadeus IT Group Carry?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Amadeus IT Group had €4.45b of debt in June 2022, down from €5.50b, one year before. However, it does have €1.85b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about €2.60b.
A Look At Amadeus IT Group's Liabilities
The latest balance sheet data shows that Amadeus IT Group had liabilities of €1.67b due within a year, and liabilities of €5.73b falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €1.85b as well as receivables valued at €701.9m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €4.85b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
Amadeus IT Group has a very large market capitalization of €23.7b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate 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). 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).
Amadeus IT Group has net debt worth 2.3 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 6.4 times the interest expense. 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. We also note that Amadeus IT Group improved its EBIT from a last year's loss to a positive €556m. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Amadeus IT Group 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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. Over the last year, Amadeus IT Group actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.
The good news is that Amadeus IT Group's demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And its interest cover is good too. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Amadeus IT Group can handle its debt fairly comfortably. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Amadeus IT Group you should be aware of.
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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Amadeus IT Group
Amadeus IT Group, S.A., together with its subsidiaries, operates as a transaction processor for the travel and tourism industry worldwide.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
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High growth potential with mediocre balance sheet.