Here's Why Raval ACS (TLV:RVL) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

December 16, 2021
  •  Updated
June 15, 2022
TASE:RVL
Source: Shutterstock

Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. Importantly, Raval ACS Ltd. (TLV:RVL) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Raval ACS

How Much Debt Does Raval ACS Carry?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Raval ACS had €93.5m in debt in September 2021; about the same as the year before. However, it also had €45.0m in cash, and so its net debt is €48.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:RVL Debt to Equity History December 16th 2021

How Strong Is Raval ACS' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Raval ACS had liabilities of €105.2m due within 12 months, and liabilities of €51.1m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of €45.0m and €48.9m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling €62.4m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Raval ACS has a market capitalization of €159.7m, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.

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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Raval ACS's net debt is only 1.1 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 84.6 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. In addition to that, we're happy to report that Raval ACS has boosted its EBIT by 33%, thus reducing the spectre of future debt repayments. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Raval ACS will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Raval ACS recorded free cash flow worth 63% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

The good news is that Raval ACS's demonstrated ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And the good news does not stop there, as its EBIT growth rate also supports that impression! Zooming out, Raval ACS seems to use debt quite reasonably; and that gets the nod from us. After all, sensible leverage can boost returns on equity. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for Raval ACS that you should be aware of.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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