Stock Analysis

Here's Why Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership (TLV:RATI) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

TASE:RATI
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Warren Buffett famously said, '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. As with many other companies Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership (TLV:RATI) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. 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, 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 Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership

What Is Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's Net Debt?

As you can see below, Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership had US$663.2m of debt at December 2022, down from US$827.4m a year prior. However, it also had US$146.6m in cash, and so its net debt is US$516.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:RATI Debt to Equity History May 17th 2023

A Look At Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership had liabilities of US$108.7m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$659.4m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$146.6m in cash and US$77.4m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$544.2m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This deficit is considerable relative to its market capitalization of US$889.2m, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's use of debt. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe dilution.

We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership has net debt worth 1.9 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 4.6 times the interest expense. While that doesn't worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. Importantly, Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership grew its EBIT by 40% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. 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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership recorded free cash flow of 43% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

On our analysis Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's EBIT growth rate should signal that it won't have too much trouble with its debt. But the other factors we noted above weren't so encouraging. For example, its level of total liabilities makes us a little nervous about its debt. Looking at all this data makes us feel a little cautious about Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's debt levels. While we appreciate debt can enhance returns on equity, we'd suggest that shareholders keep close watch on its debt levels, lest they increase. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership .

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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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.