Scanfil Oyj (HEL:SCANFL) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

Published
June 15, 2022
HLSE:SCANFL
Source: Shutterstock

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. We can see that Scanfil Oyj (HEL:SCANFL) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for Scanfil Oyj

How Much Debt Does Scanfil Oyj Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of March 2022, Scanfil Oyj had €63.1m of debt, up from €21.5m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it also had €8.00m in cash, and so its net debt is €55.1m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
HLSE:SCANFL Debt to Equity History June 15th 2022

How Strong Is Scanfil Oyj's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Scanfil Oyj had liabilities of €205.9m falling due within a year, and liabilities of €65.9m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of €8.00m and €162.9m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling €100.9m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Scanfil Oyj has a market capitalization of €403.2m, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Scanfil Oyj's net debt is only 1.1 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 28.0 times the size. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. And we also note warmly that Scanfil Oyj grew its EBIT by 16% last year, making its debt load easier to handle. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Scanfil Oyj 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 company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. In the last three years, Scanfil Oyj created free cash flow amounting to 9.7% of its EBIT, an uninspiring performance. For us, cash conversion that low sparks a little paranoia about is ability to extinguish debt.

Our View

On our analysis Scanfil Oyj's interest cover should signal that it won't have too much trouble with its debt. But the other factors we noted above weren't so encouraging. For instance it seems like it has to struggle a bit to convert EBIT to free cash flow. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that Scanfil Oyj is managing its debt quite well. But a word of caution: we think debt levels are high enough to justify ongoing monitoring. 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. For instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for Scanfil Oyj (1 shouldn't be ignored) you should be aware of.

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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