Here's Why Israel Land Development (TLV:ILDC) Is Weighed Down By Its Debt Load

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 25, 2022
TASE:ILDC
Source: Shutterstock

Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' 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. We note that The Israel Land Development Company Ltd. (TLV:ILDC) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Israel Land Development

What Is Israel Land Development's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at September 2021 Israel Land Development had debt of ₪3.78b, up from ₪3.28b in one year. However, it also had ₪319.5m in cash, and so its net debt is ₪3.46b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:ILDC Debt to Equity History January 25th 2022

How Strong Is Israel Land Development's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Israel Land Development had liabilities of ₪829.1m due within a year, and liabilities of ₪3.91b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of ₪319.5m and ₪159.6m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₪4.26b.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the ₪1.89b 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 definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, Israel Land Development would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Weak interest cover of 0.72 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 32.8 hit our confidence in Israel Land Development like a one-two punch to the gut. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. On a slightly more positive note, Israel Land Development grew its EBIT at 14% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Israel Land Development's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

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, Israel Land Development burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

On the face of it, Israel Land Development'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. But on the bright side, its EBIT growth rate is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Taking into account all the aforementioned factors, it looks like Israel Land Development has too much debt. That sort of riskiness is ok for some, but it certainly doesn't float our boat. 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 Israel Land Development you should be aware of, and 1 of them shouldn't be ignored.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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