Stock Analysis

Is Suny Cellular Communication (TLV:SNCM) Using Too Much Debt?

TASE:SNCM
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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.' 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 Suny Cellular Communication Ltd (TLV:SNCM) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. 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. 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 Suny Cellular Communication

What Is Suny Cellular Communication's Debt?

As you can see below, Suny Cellular Communication had ₪122.4m of debt at December 2023, down from ₪134.1m a year prior. On the flip side, it has ₪21.4m in cash leading to net debt of about ₪101.0m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:SNCM Debt to Equity History May 29th 2024

How Strong Is Suny Cellular Communication's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Suny Cellular Communication had liabilities of ₪69.2m due within a year, and liabilities of ₪143.1m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had ₪21.4m in cash and ₪181.0m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total ₪9.87m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Since publicly traded Suny Cellular Communication shares are worth a total of ₪250.7m, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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).

Suny Cellular Communication's net debt is 2.9 times its EBITDA, which is a significant but still reasonable amount of leverage. However, its interest coverage of 22.4 is very high, suggesting that the interest expense on the debt is currently quite low. Shareholders should be aware that Suny Cellular Communication's EBIT was down 59% last year. If that decline continues then paying off debt will be harder than selling foie gras at a vegan convention. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Suny Cellular Communication'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, 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. Looking at the most recent three years, Suny Cellular Communication recorded free cash flow of 37% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

Neither Suny Cellular Communication's ability to grow its EBIT nor its net debt to EBITDA gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But its interest cover tells a very different story, and suggests some resilience. We think that Suny Cellular Communication's debt does make it a bit risky, after considering the aforementioned data points together. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. 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. We've identified 5 warning signs with Suny Cellular Communication (at least 3 which are potentially serious) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

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.

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

Find out whether Suny Cellular Communication 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.

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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.