Here's Why Kape Technologies (LON:KAPE) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 08, 2021
AIM:KAPE
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.' 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. We note that Kape Technologies Plc (LON:KAPE) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. 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 examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for Kape Technologies

What Is Kape Technologies's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of June 2021 Kape Technologies had US$123.5m of debt, an increase on US$40.4m, over one year. However, it also had US$22.4m in cash, and so its net debt is US$101.1m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
AIM:KAPE Debt to Equity History October 8th 2021

How Healthy Is Kape Technologies' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Kape Technologies had liabilities of US$101.7m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$128.9m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of US$22.4m and US$16.2m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling US$192.0m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Since publicly traded Kape Technologies shares are worth a total of US$1.68b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.

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.

Kape Technologies has net debt worth 2.2 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 6.7 times the interest expense. While that doesn't worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. Notably, Kape Technologies's EBIT launched higher than Elon Musk, gaining a whopping 225% on last year. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Kape Technologies 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 it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. In the last three years, Kape Technologies's free cash flow amounted to 32% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

Happily, Kape Technologies's impressive EBIT growth rate implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But truth be told we feel its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow does undermine this impression a bit. All these things considered, it appears that Kape Technologies can comfortably handle its current debt levels. 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. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for Kape Technologies (2 are concerning) 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.

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.

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Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.