RKEC Projects (NSE:RKEC) Has A Somewhat Strained Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 13, 2022
NSEI:RKEC
Source: Shutterstock

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 note that RKEC Projects Limited (NSE:RKEC) does have debt on its balance sheet. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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.

View our latest analysis for RKEC Projects

How Much Debt Does RKEC Projects Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2021 RKEC Projects had ₹1.15b of debt, an increase on ₹1.11b, over one year. However, it does have ₹486.1m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹665.9m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:RKEC Debt to Equity History May 13th 2022

How Healthy Is RKEC Projects' Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that RKEC Projects had liabilities of ₹1.44b falling due within a year, and liabilities of ₹531.8m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of ₹486.1m and ₹785.1m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₹697.3m.

This deficit is considerable relative to its market capitalization of ₹998.0m, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on RKEC Projects' use of debt. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe dilution.

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). 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).

RKEC Projects's net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 2.2 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 5.0 times last year. While these numbers do not alarm us, it's worth noting that the cost of the company's debt is having a real impact. The bad news is that RKEC Projects saw its EBIT decline by 15% over the last year. If earnings continue to decline at that rate then handling the debt will be more difficult than taking three children under 5 to a fancy pants restaurant. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is RKEC Projects'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.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, RKEC Projects saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.

Our View

To be frank both RKEC Projects's EBIT growth rate and its track record of converting EBIT to free cash flow make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. Having said that, its ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT isn't such a worry. Overall, it seems to us that RKEC Projects's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. So we're almost as wary of this stock as a hungry kitten is about falling into its owner's fish pond: once bitten, twice shy, as they say. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Be aware that RKEC Projects is showing 5 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 2 of those are concerning...

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.

Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.

Make Confident Investment Decisions

Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.