Is Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments (TLV:ALHE) Using Too Much Debt?

Simply Wall St
January 31, 2022
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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.' 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. We can see that Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments Ltd (TLV:ALHE) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments

How Much Debt Does Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of September 2021, Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments had ₪15.3b of debt, up from ₪13.6b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of ₪613.0m, its net debt is less, at about ₪14.6b.

TASE:ALHE Debt to Equity History January 31st 2022

A Look At Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments' Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments had liabilities of ₪3.27b falling due within a year, and liabilities of ₪15.6b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had ₪613.0m in cash and ₪753.6m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₪17.5b.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the ₪10.4b company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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.

With a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 12.8, it's fair to say Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments does have a significant amount of debt. However, its interest coverage of 2.6 is reasonably strong, which is a good sign. Investors should also be troubled by the fact that Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments saw its EBIT drop by 19% over the last twelve months. If things keep going like that, handling the debt will about as easy as bundling an angry house cat into its travel box. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments'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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. During the last three years, Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments burned a lot of cash. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.

Our View

On the face of it, Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow left us tentative about the stock, and its level of total liabilities was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. And furthermore, its EBIT growth rate also fails to instill confidence. It looks to us like Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments carries a significant balance sheet burden. If you harvest honey without a bee suit, you risk getting stung, so we'd probably stay away from this particular stock. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Alony-Hetz Properties & Investments (of which 1 shouldn't be ignored!) you should know about.

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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