Stock Analysis

Is Interparfums (EPA:ITP) Using Too Much Debt?

ENXTPA:ITP
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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. Importantly, Interparfums SA (EPA:ITP) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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 think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Interparfums

How Much Debt Does Interparfums Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Interparfums had debt of €100.2m at the end of June 2022, a reduction from €130.5m over a year. However, it does have €83.6m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about €16.6m.

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ENXTPA:ITP Debt to Equity History September 30th 2022

How Strong Is Interparfums' Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Interparfums had liabilities of €157.5m due within a year, and liabilities of €110.9m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had €83.6m in cash and €155.6m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling €29.1m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This state of affairs indicates that Interparfums' balance sheet looks quite solid, as its total liabilities are just about equal to its liquid assets. So it's very unlikely that the €2.65b company is short on cash, but still worth keeping an eye on the balance sheet. But either way, Interparfums has virtually no net debt, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

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.

Interparfums has net debt of just 0.13 times EBITDA, suggesting it could ramp leverage without breaking a sweat. But the really cool thing is that it actually managed to receive more interest than it paid, over the last year. So it's fair to say it can handle debt like a hotshot teppanyaki chef handles cooking. Fortunately, Interparfums grew its EBIT by 4.8% in the last year, making that debt load look even more manageable. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Interparfums 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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the last three years, Interparfums reported free cash flow worth 5.7% of its EBIT, which is really quite low. That limp level of cash conversion undermines its ability to manage and pay down debt.

Our View

The good news is that Interparfums's demonstrated ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. But we must concede we find its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow has the opposite effect. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Interparfums 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Interparfums .

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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.