Stock Analysis

Does Marine Electricals (India) (NSE:MARINE) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

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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.' 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 Marine Electricals (India) Limited (NSE:MARINE) does have debt on its balance sheet. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

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. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for Marine Electricals (India)

What Is Marine Electricals (India)'s Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of September 2022 Marine Electricals (India) had ₹595.5m of debt, an increase on ₹317.0m, over one year. However, it does have ₹181.5m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹414.0m.

NSEI:MARINE Debt to Equity History March 15th 2023

How Healthy Is Marine Electricals (India)'s Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Marine Electricals (India) had liabilities of ₹1.91b due within 12 months and liabilities of ₹244.2m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had ₹181.5m in cash and ₹1.76b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling ₹215.5m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Since publicly traded Marine Electricals (India) shares are worth a total of ₹5.04b, 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).

With net debt sitting at just 1.1 times EBITDA, Marine Electricals (India) is arguably pretty conservatively geared. And this view is supported by the solid interest coverage, with EBIT coming in at 7.1 times the interest expense over the last year. Also good is that Marine Electricals (India) grew its EBIT at 15% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Marine Electricals (India) will need earnings to service that debt. 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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, Marine Electricals (India) recorded free cash flow of 26% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

On this analysis, Marine Electricals (India)'s EBIT growth rate was a real positive, just like an unsolicited gift of cupcakes from a work colleague. But we're not so comfortable with its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. All these things considered, it appears that Marine Electricals (India) can comfortably handle its current debt levels. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Be aware that Marine Electricals (India) is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , 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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