Stock Analysis

We Think Radico Khaitan (NSE:RADICO) Can Stay On Top Of Its Debt

NSEI:RADICO
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The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says '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. As with many other companies Radico Khaitan Limited (NSE:RADICO) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. 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.

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How Much Debt Does Radico Khaitan Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of September 2022, Radico Khaitan had ₹3.99b of debt, up from ₹1.91b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it also had ₹1.12b in cash, and so its net debt is ₹2.87b.

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NSEI:RADICO Debt to Equity History December 3rd 2022

A Look At Radico Khaitan's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Radico Khaitan had liabilities of ₹9.48b due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₹1.84b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of ₹1.12b and ₹8.23b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₹1.97b.

Having regard to Radico Khaitan's size, it seems that its liquid assets are well balanced with its total liabilities. So while it's hard to imagine that the ₹151.5b company is struggling for cash, we still think it's worth monitoring its balance sheet.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Radico Khaitan's net debt is only 0.77 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 42.7 times over. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. But the bad news is that Radico Khaitan has seen its EBIT plunge 16% in the last twelve months. We think hat kind of performance, if repeated frequently, could well lead to difficulties for the stock. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. 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.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. 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 9.8% of its EBIT, an uninspiring performance. That limp level of cash conversion undermines its ability to manage and pay down debt.

Our View

On our analysis Radico Khaitan's interest cover should signal that it won't have too much trouble with its debt. However, our other observations weren't so heartening. To be specific, it seems about as good at (not) growing its EBIT as wet socks are at keeping your feet warm. Looking at all this data makes us feel a little cautious about Radico Khaitan's debt levels. While we appreciate debt can enhance returns on equity, we'd suggest that shareholders keep close watch on its debt levels, lest they increase. We'd be motivated to research the stock further if we found out that Radico Khaitan insiders have bought shares recently. If you would too, then you're in luck, since today we're sharing our list of reported insider transactions for free.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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Find out whether Radico Khaitan is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.