Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Isras Investment (TLV:ISRS) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well

TASE:ISRS
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. As with many other companies Isras Investment Company Ltd (TLV:ISRS) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for Isras Investment

What Is Isras Investment's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at March 2021 Isras Investment had debt of ₪3.43b, up from ₪3.05b in one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of ₪884.0m, its net debt is less, at about ₪2.54b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:ISRS Debt to Equity History August 9th 2021

A Look At Isras Investment's Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Isras Investment had liabilities of ₪709.4m falling due within a year, and liabilities of ₪3.82b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had ₪884.0m in cash and ₪182.8m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling ₪3.46b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of ₪3.72b. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Isras Investment has a rather high debt to EBITDA ratio of 6.3 which suggests a meaningful debt load. However, its interest coverage of 4.9 is reasonably strong, which is a good sign. We note that Isras Investment grew its EBIT by 26% in the last year, and that should make it easier to pay down debt, going forward. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Isras Investment will need earnings to service that debt. 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, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Isras Investment produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 77% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Based on what we've seen Isras Investment is not finding it easy, given its net debt to EBITDA, but the other factors we considered give us cause to be optimistic. In particular, we are dazzled with its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about Isras Investment's use of debt. While we appreciate debt can enhance returns on equity, we'd suggest that shareholders keep close watch on its debt levels, lest they increase. 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 example Isras Investment has 4 warning signs (and 1 which is concerning) we think 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.

If you're looking for stocks to buy, use the lowest-cost* platform that is rated #1 Overall by Barron’s, Interactive Brokers. Trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on 135 markets, all from a single integrated account. Promoted


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

Find out whether Isras Investment 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

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020


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