Tata Coffee (NSE:TATACOFFEE) Has A Pretty Healthy Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
February 25, 2022
NSEI:TATACOFFEE
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. Importantly, Tata Coffee Limited (NSE:TATACOFFEE) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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 step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Tata Coffee

What Is Tata Coffee's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Tata Coffee had ₹11.1b of debt in September 2021, down from ₹11.9b, one year before. However, it does have ₹2.17b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹8.95b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:TATACOFFEE Debt to Equity History February 25th 2022

How Strong Is Tata Coffee's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Tata Coffee had liabilities of ₹8.18b falling due within a year, and liabilities of ₹8.21b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of ₹2.17b as well as receivables valued at ₹2.57b due within 12 months. So its liabilities total ₹11.7b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Tata Coffee has a market capitalization of ₹34.2b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.

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).

Tata Coffee's net debt of 2.2 times EBITDA suggests graceful use of debt. And the fact that its trailing twelve months of EBIT was 8.5 times its interest expenses harmonizes with that theme. If Tata Coffee can keep growing EBIT at last year's rate of 11% over the last year, then it will find its debt load easier to manage. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Tata Coffee's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. 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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, Tata Coffee produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 73% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Tata Coffee's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And the good news does not stop there, as its interest cover also supports that impression! Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Tata Coffee can handle its debt fairly comfortably. Of course, while this leverage can enhance returns on equity, it does bring more risk, so it's worth keeping an eye on this one. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Tata Coffee (of which 1 is concerning!) you should know about.

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.

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