Stock Analysis

Is Overseas Commerce (TLV:OVRS) Using Too Much Debt?

TASE:OVRS
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David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. We note that Overseas Commerce Ltd. (TLV:OVRS) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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

View our latest analysis for Overseas Commerce

What Is Overseas Commerce's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of March 2023, Overseas Commerce had ₪184.8m of debt, up from ₪153.8m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of ₪3.90m, its net debt is less, at about ₪180.9m.

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TASE:OVRS Debt to Equity History July 12th 2023

A Look At Overseas Commerce's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Overseas Commerce had liabilities of ₪144.0m due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₪383.4m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of ₪3.90m and ₪88.9m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling ₪434.6m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This deficit casts a shadow over the ₪219.9m company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, Overseas Commerce would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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.

Overseas Commerce's debt is 2.6 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 3.0 times over. Taken together this implies that, while we wouldn't want to see debt levels rise, we think it can handle its current leverage. If Overseas Commerce can keep growing EBIT at last year's rate of 10% over the last year, then it will find its debt load easier to manage. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Overseas Commerce will need earnings to service that debt. 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 it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the last three years, Overseas Commerce recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 92% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.

Our View

Neither Overseas Commerce's ability to handle its total liabilities nor its interest cover gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow tells a very different story, and suggests some resilience. We should also note that Infrastructure industry companies like Overseas Commerce commonly do use debt without problems. Taking the abovementioned factors together we do think Overseas Commerce's debt poses some risks to the business. So while that leverage does boost returns on equity, we wouldn't really want to see it increase from here. 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, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Overseas Commerce (1 is a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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

Find out whether Overseas Commerce 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.