Stock Analysis

Is Sunflower Sustainable Investments (TLV:SNFL) A Risky Investment?

TASE:SNFL
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Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. As with many other companies Sunflower Sustainable Investments Ltd (TLV:SNFL) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Sunflower Sustainable Investments

What Is Sunflower Sustainable Investments's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Sunflower Sustainable Investments had ₪118.5m of debt in June 2020, down from ₪142.7m, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of ₪68.9m, its net debt is less, at about ₪49.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TASE:SNFL Debt to Equity History December 23rd 2020

How Strong Is Sunflower Sustainable Investments's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Sunflower Sustainable Investments had liabilities of ₪22.7m due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₪130.8m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of ₪68.9m as well as receivables valued at ₪20.7m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling ₪63.9m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Sunflower Sustainable Investments has a market capitalization of ₪220.8m, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 1.1 and interest cover of 4.4 times, it seems to us that Sunflower Sustainable Investments is probably using debt in a pretty reasonable way. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. Sadly, Sunflower Sustainable Investments's EBIT actually dropped 5.3% in the last year. If earnings continue on that decline then managing that debt will be difficult like delivering hot soup on a unicycle. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Sunflower Sustainable Investments'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 always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Sunflower Sustainable Investments actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

When it comes to the balance sheet, the standout positive for Sunflower Sustainable Investments was the fact that it seems able to convert EBIT to free cash flow confidently. But the other factors we noted above weren't so encouraging. For instance it seems like it has to struggle a bit to grow its EBIT. Considering this range of data points, we think Sunflower Sustainable Investments is in a good position to manage its debt levels. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Sunflower Sustainable Investments that you should be aware of before investing here.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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