Stock Analysis

Brack Capital Properties (TLV:BCNV) Has A Somewhat Strained Balance Sheet

TASE:BCNV-M
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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.' 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 Brack Capital Properties NV (TLV:BCNV) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Brack Capital Properties

How Much Debt Does Brack Capital Properties Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of March 2022, Brack Capital Properties had €841.4m of debt, up from €498.4m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. On the flip side, it has €179.4m in cash leading to net debt of about €661.9m.

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TASE:BCNV Debt to Equity History July 4th 2022

How Healthy Is Brack Capital Properties' Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Brack Capital Properties had liabilities of €347.9m due within 12 months and liabilities of €674.7m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had €179.4m in cash and €3.25m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by €839.9m.

Given this deficit is actually higher than the company's market capitalization of €751.9m, we think shareholders really should watch Brack Capital Properties's debt levels, like a parent watching their child ride a bike for the first time. In the scenario where the company had to clean up its balance sheet quickly, it seems likely shareholders would suffer extensive 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). 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).

With a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 18.9, it's fair to say Brack Capital Properties does have a significant amount of debt. But the good news is that it boasts fairly comforting interest cover of 3.3 times, suggesting it can responsibly service its obligations. Worse, Brack Capital Properties's EBIT was down 26% over the last year. If earnings keep going like that over the long term, it has a snowball's chance in hell of paying off that debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Brack Capital Properties'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, 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. During the last three years, Brack Capital Properties produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 76% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

To be frank both Brack Capital Properties's net debt to EBITDA and its track record of (not) growing its EBIT make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But on the bright side, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Overall, it seems to us that Brack Capital Properties's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. So we're almost as wary of this stock as a hungry kitten is about falling into its owner's fish pond: once bitten, twice shy, as they say. 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. Be aware that Brack Capital Properties is showing 5 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 2 of those shouldn't be ignored...

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.

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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.