Stock Analysis

Azrieli Group (TLV:AZRG) Has A Somewhat Strained Balance Sheet

TASE:AZRG
Source: Shutterstock

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. As with many other companies Azrieli Group Ltd (TLV:AZRG) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. 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 Azrieli Group

What Is Azrieli Group's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of March 2023 Azrieli Group had ₪19.2b of debt, an increase on ₪15.7b, over one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of ₪2.28b, its net debt is less, at about ₪16.9b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:AZRG Debt to Equity History May 31st 2023

How Healthy Is Azrieli Group's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Azrieli Group had liabilities of ₪4.81b due within 12 months and liabilities of ₪22.5b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had ₪2.28b in cash and ₪396.0m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₪24.6b.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of ₪24.7b. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe 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).

Weak interest cover of 1.9 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 8.5 hit our confidence in Azrieli Group like a one-two punch to the gut. The debt burden here is substantial. On a lighter note, we note that Azrieli Group grew its EBIT by 23% in the last year. If sustained, this growth should make that debt evaporate like a scarce drinking water during an unnaturally hot summer. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Azrieli Group'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 we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, Azrieli Group recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 87% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.

Our View

We feel some trepidation about Azrieli Group's difficulty net debt to EBITDA, but we've got positives to focus on, too. For example, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and EBIT growth rate give us some confidence in its ability to manage its debt. We think that Azrieli Group's debt does make it a bit risky, after considering the aforementioned data points together. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for Azrieli Group you should be aware of, and 1 of them doesn't sit too well with us.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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

Find out whether Azrieli Group 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.