Stock Analysis

Here's Why Golf & Co Group (TLV:GOLF) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

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TASE:GOLF
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The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a 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 note that Golf & Co Group Ltd (TLV:GOLF) 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 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. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Golf & Co Group

What Is Golf & Co Group's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at June 2023 Golf & Co Group had debt of ₪68.9m, up from ₪32.2m in one year. On the flip side, it has ₪49.3m in cash leading to net debt of about ₪19.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:GOLF Debt to Equity History December 11th 2023

How Healthy Is Golf & Co Group's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Golf & Co Group had liabilities of ₪316.3m due within 12 months and liabilities of ₪449.4m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had ₪49.3m in cash and ₪119.7m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total ₪596.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the ₪127.8m 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, Golf & Co Group would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its 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).

Given net debt is only 0.58 times EBITDA, it is initially surprising to see that Golf & Co Group's EBIT has low interest coverage of 0.24 times. So while we're not necessarily alarmed we think that its debt is far from trivial. Shareholders should be aware that Golf & Co Group's EBIT was down 66% last year. If that earnings trend continues then paying off its debt will be about as easy as herding cats on to a roller coaster. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Golf & Co Group'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.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the last three years, Golf & Co Group actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

On the face of it, Golf & Co Group's EBIT growth rate 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 at least it's pretty decent at converting EBIT to free cash flow; that's encouraging. We're quite clear that we consider Golf & Co Group to be really rather risky, as a result of its balance sheet health. For this reason we're pretty cautious about the stock, and we think shareholders should keep a close eye on its liquidity. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for Golf & Co Group you should be aware of, and 1 of them shouldn't be ignored.

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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