Stock Analysis

Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership (TLV:RATI) Takes On Some Risk With Its Use Of Debt

TASE:RATI
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. We note that Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership (TLV:RATI) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership

How Much Debt Does Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership Carry?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership had US$822.2m in debt in March 2022; about the same as the year before. However, it does have US$221.7m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$600.5m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:RATI Debt to Equity History July 6th 2022

How Healthy Is Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership had liabilities of US$171.6m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$749.0m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$221.7m as well as receivables valued at US$63.4m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$635.5m.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of US$749.7m. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry.

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.

Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's debt is 2.9 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 3.5 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. Looking on the bright side, Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership boosted its EBIT by a silky 45% in the last year. Like a mother's loving embrace of a newborn that sort of growth builds resilience, putting the company in a stronger position to manage 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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last three years, Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership barely recorded positive free cash flow, in total. While many companies do operate at break-even, we prefer see substantial free cash flow, especially if a it already has dead.

Our View

Neither Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow nor its level of total liabilities gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But the good news is it seems to be able to grow its EBIT with ease. Taking the abovementioned factors together we do think Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership's debt poses some risks to the business. While that debt can boost returns, we think the company has enough leverage now. 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. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership that you should be aware of.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Ratio Energies - Limited Partnership is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

View the Free Analysis

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

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.