Does Audax Renovables (BME:ADX) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 29, 2021
BME:ADX
Source: Shutterstock

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. We can see that Audax Renovables, S.A. (BME:ADX) does use debt in its business. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Audax Renovables

What Is Audax Renovables's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of June 2021, Audax Renovables had €793.1m of debt, up from €388.9m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have €448.7m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about €344.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
BME:ADX Debt to Equity History October 30th 2021

How Strong Is Audax Renovables' Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Audax Renovables had liabilities of €479.2m due within a year, and liabilities of €657.5m falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €448.7m as well as receivables valued at €294.4m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling €393.6m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of €613.3m. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe dilution.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Weak interest cover of 1.3 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 8.4 hit our confidence in Audax Renovables like a one-two punch to the gut. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Worse, Audax Renovables's EBIT was down 25% over the last year. If earnings keep going like that over the long term, it has a snowball's chance in hell of paying off that debt. 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 Audax Renovables can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. In the last three years, Audax Renovables's free cash flow amounted to 21% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

To be frank both Audax Renovables's net debt to EBITDA and its track record of (not) growing its EBIT make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. And furthermore, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow also fails to instill confidence. Overall, it seems to us that Audax Renovables's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. So we're almost as wary of this stock as a hungry kitten is about falling into its owner's fish pond: once bitten, twice shy, as they say. 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. For example Audax Renovables has 5 warning signs (and 2 which can't be ignored) we think you should know about.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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