Stock Analysis

Here's Why Radico Khaitan (NSE:RADICO) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

NSEI:RADICO
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Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. Importantly, Radico Khaitan Limited (NSE:RADICO) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. 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 think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Radico Khaitan

What Is Radico Khaitan's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at September 2022 Radico Khaitan had debt of ₹4.10b, up from ₹2.04b in one year. However, it does have ₹1.12b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹2.98b.

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NSEI:RADICO Debt to Equity History March 14th 2023

How Healthy Is Radico Khaitan's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Radico Khaitan had liabilities of ₹9.48b due within 12 months and liabilities of ₹1.84b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had ₹1.12b in cash and ₹8.23b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling ₹1.97b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This state of affairs indicates that Radico Khaitan's balance sheet looks quite solid, as its total liabilities are just about equal to its liquid assets. So while it's hard to imagine that the ₹154.3b company is struggling for cash, we still think it's worth monitoring its balance sheet.

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). 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).

Radico Khaitan has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.84. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 28.1 times over. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. The modesty of its debt load may become crucial for Radico Khaitan if management cannot prevent a repeat of the 21% cut to EBIT over the last year. Falling earnings (if the trend continues) could eventually make even modest debt quite risky. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Radico Khaitan 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 the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. In the last three years, Radico Khaitan created free cash flow amounting to 15% of its EBIT, an uninspiring performance. That limp level of cash conversion undermines its ability to manage and pay down debt.

Our View

Radico Khaitan's EBIT growth rate and conversion of EBIT to free cash flow definitely weigh on it, in our esteem. But its interest cover tells a very different story, and suggests some resilience. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Radico Khaitan is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. In light of our reservations about the company's balance sheet, it seems sensible to check if insiders have been selling shares recently.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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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.