Is boohoo group (LON:BOO) Using Too Much Debt?

July 15, 2022
  •  Updated
October 06, 2022
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.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. As with many other companies boohoo group plc (LON:BOO) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for boohoo group

What Is boohoo group's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of February 2022, boohoo group had UK£100.0m of debt, up from none a year ago. Click the image for more detail. But it also has UK£101.3m in cash to offset that, meaning it has UK£1.30m net cash.

AIM:BOO Debt to Equity History July 15th 2022

A Look At boohoo group's Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that boohoo group had liabilities of UK£461.7m due within a year, and liabilities of UK£72.4m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had UK£101.3m in cash and UK£44.5m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by UK£388.3m.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since boohoo group has a market capitalization of UK£682.0m, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt. Despite its noteworthy liabilities, boohoo group boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

The modesty of its debt load may become crucial for boohoo group if management cannot prevent a repeat of the 64% cut to EBIT over the last year. When a company sees its earnings tank, it can sometimes find its relationships with its lenders turn sour. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if boohoo group 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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. While boohoo group has net cash on its balance sheet, it's still worth taking a look at its ability to convert earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, to help us understand how quickly it is building (or eroding) that cash balance. Over the last three years, boohoo group saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.

Summing up

While boohoo group does have more liabilities than liquid assets, it also has net cash of UK£1.30m. Despite its cash we think that boohoo group seems to struggle to grow its EBIT, so we are wary of the stock. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. We've identified 1 warning sign with boohoo group , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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