Is Balaji Amines (NSE:BALAMINES) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 28, 2021
NSEI:BALAMINES
Source: Shutterstock

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.' 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. We can see that Balaji Amines Limited (NSE:BALAMINES) does use debt in its business. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Balaji Amines

What Is Balaji Amines's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Balaji Amines had ₹1.30b of debt in March 2021, down from ₹2.60b, one year before. However, it also had ₹173.2m in cash, and so its net debt is ₹1.13b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:BALAMINES Debt to Equity History September 29th 2021

How Strong Is Balaji Amines' Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Balaji Amines had liabilities of ₹2.43b due within a year, and liabilities of ₹1.58b falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of ₹173.2m as well as receivables valued at ₹3.83b due within 12 months. So its total liabilities are just about perfectly matched by its shorter-term, liquid assets.

Having regard to Balaji Amines' size, it seems that its liquid assets are well balanced with its total liabilities. So while it's hard to imagine that the ₹146.4b company is struggling for cash, we still think it's worth monitoring its balance sheet. But either way, Balaji Amines has virtually no net debt, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

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).

Balaji Amines has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.24. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 28.1 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. Better yet, Balaji Amines grew its EBIT by 161% last year, which is an impressive improvement. That boost will make it even easier to pay down debt going forward. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Balaji Amines can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, Balaji Amines recorded negative free cash flow, in total. Debt is far more risky for companies with unreliable free cash flow, so shareholders should be hoping that the past expenditure will produce free cash flow in the future.

Our View

Balaji Amines's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. But the stark truth is that we are concerned by its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. When we consider the range of factors above, it looks like Balaji Amines is pretty sensible with its use of debt. While that brings some risk, it can also enhance returns for shareholders. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for Balaji Amines that you should be aware of.

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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