Is Raval ACS (TLV:RVL) A Risky Investment?

Published
June 15, 2022
TASE:RVL
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.' 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. As with many other companies Raval ACS Ltd. (TLV:RVL) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Raval ACS

How Much Debt Does Raval ACS Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Raval ACS had debt of €87.1m at the end of March 2022, a reduction from €98.1m over a year. However, it also had €51.6m in cash, and so its net debt is €35.5m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:RVL Debt to Equity History June 15th 2022

A Look At Raval ACS' Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Raval ACS had liabilities of €113.0m falling due within a year, and liabilities of €46.5m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of €51.6m and €47.9m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling €59.9m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Raval ACS has a market capitalization of €115.2m, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Raval ACS has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 1.1. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 17.5 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. The modesty of its debt load may become crucial for Raval ACS if management cannot prevent a repeat of the 54% cut to EBIT over the last year. Falling earnings (if the trend continues) could eventually make even modest debt quite risky. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Raval ACS'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, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, Raval ACS actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

Raval ACS's EBIT growth rate was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered were considerably better. There's no doubt that its ability to to cover its interest expense with its EBIT is pretty flash. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about Raval ACS's use of debt. While debt does have its upside in higher potential returns, we think shareholders should definitely consider how debt levels might make the stock more risky. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Raval ACS you should know about.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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