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 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 can see that Varroc Engineering Limited (NSE:VARROC) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
What Risk Does Debt Bring?
Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
How Much Debt Does Varroc Engineering Carry?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Varroc Engineering had ₹16.3b of debt in March 2022, down from ₹36.9b, one year before. On the flip side, it has ₹1.18b in cash leading to net debt of about ₹15.1b.
How Strong Is Varroc Engineering's Balance Sheet?
According to the last reported balance sheet, Varroc Engineering had liabilities of ₹84.8b due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₹5.07b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of ₹1.18b and ₹5.74b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total ₹82.9b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This deficit casts a shadow over the ₹53.4b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. At the end of the day, Varroc Engineering would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.
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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
Varroc Engineering has a very low debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.3 so it is strange to see weak interest coverage, with last year's EBIT being only 0.77 times the interest expense. So while we're not necessarily alarmed we think that its debt is far from trivial. Notably, Varroc Engineering made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, but improved that to positive EBIT of ₹1.0b in the last twelve months. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Varroc Engineering's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.
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 the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. Over the last year, Varroc Engineering saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.
To be frank both Varroc Engineering's interest cover and its track record of converting EBIT to free cash flow make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least it's pretty decent at managing its debt, based on its EBITDA,; that's encouraging. After considering the datapoints discussed, we think Varroc Engineering has too much debt. While some investors love that sort of risky play, it's certainly not our cup of tea. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Varroc Engineering you should know about.
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.
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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.
Varroc Engineering Limited designs, manufactures, and supplies exterior lighting systems, plastic and polymer components, electrical and electronics components, and precision metallic components worldwide.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
|Analysis Area||Score (0-6)|
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
Good value with reasonable growth potential.