These 4 Measures Indicate That Lisi (EPA:FII) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 05, 2021
ENXTPA:FII
Source: Shutterstock

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.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. We can see that Lisi S.A. (EPA:FII) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Lisi

What Is Lisi's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Lisi had debt of €368.2m at the end of June 2021, a reduction from €491.0m over a year. However, it does have €276.8m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about €91.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
ENXTPA:FII Debt to Equity History November 6th 2021

How Healthy Is Lisi's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Lisi had liabilities of €441.8m falling due within a year, and liabilities of €440.7m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of €276.8m and €205.6m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by €400.1m.

Lisi has a market capitalization of €1.32b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

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

Lisi has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.64. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 10.8 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. It is just as well that Lisi's load is not too heavy, because its EBIT was down 43% over the last year. When it comes to paying off debt, falling earnings are no more useful than sugary sodas are for your health. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Lisi'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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. During the last three years, Lisi generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 98% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Our View

Based on what we've seen Lisi is not finding it easy, given its EBIT growth rate, but the other factors we considered give us cause to be optimistic. In particular, we are dazzled with its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. Considering this range of data points, we think Lisi is in a good position to manage its debt levels. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. While Lisi didn't make a statutory profit in the last year, its positive EBIT suggests that profitability might not be far away. Click here to see if its earnings are heading in the right direction, over the medium term.

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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