Athens Medical C.S.A (ATH:IATR) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 04, 2021
ATSE:IATR
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.' 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 Athens Medical C.S.A. (ATH:IATR) does use debt in its business. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Athens Medical C.S.A

What Is Athens Medical C.S.A's Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of June 2021, Athens Medical C.S.A had €139.9m of debt, up from €114.8m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it also had €58.4m in cash, and so its net debt is €81.5m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
ATSE:IATR Debt to Equity History October 5th 2021

How Strong Is Athens Medical C.S.A's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Athens Medical C.S.A had liabilities of €238.7m due within 12 months, and liabilities of €100.0m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had €58.4m in cash and €103.7m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €176.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's €160.9m market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. Hypothetically, extremely heavy dilution would be required if the company were forced to pay down its liabilities by raising capital at the current share price.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Athens Medical C.S.A's debt is 2.8 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 4.9 times over. Taken together this implies that, while we wouldn't want to see debt levels rise, we think it can handle its current leverage. Notably, Athens Medical C.S.A's EBIT launched higher than Elon Musk, gaining a whopping 168% on last year. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Athens Medical C.S.A's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Athens Medical C.S.A actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

Both Athens Medical C.S.A's ability to to convert EBIT to free cash flow and its EBIT growth rate gave us comfort that it can handle its debt. In contrast, our confidence was undermined by its apparent struggle to handle its total liabilities. It's also worth noting that Athens Medical C.S.A is in the Healthcare industry, which is often considered to be quite defensive. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that Athens Medical C.S.A is managing its debt quite well. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for Athens Medical C.S.A that 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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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.