Here's Why Bharat Rasayan (NSE:BHARATRAS) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

June 15, 2022
Source: Shutterstock

Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. We can see that Bharat Rasayan Limited (NSE:BHARATRAS) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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

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How Much Debt Does Bharat Rasayan Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of March 2022, Bharat Rasayan had ₹1.74b of debt, up from ₹584.5m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of ₹62.8m, its net debt is less, at about ₹1.67b.

NSEI:BHARATRAS Debt to Equity History June 15th 2022

A Look At Bharat Rasayan's Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that Bharat Rasayan had liabilities of ₹3.09b due within a year, and liabilities of ₹111.4m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of ₹62.8m and ₹4.68b worth of receivables due within a year. So it can boast ₹1.54b more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This surplus suggests that Bharat Rasayan has a conservative balance sheet, and could probably eliminate its debt without much difficulty.

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

Bharat Rasayan's net debt is only 0.66 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 33.8 times over. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. The good news is that Bharat Rasayan has increased its EBIT by 6.8% over twelve months, which should ease any concerns about debt repayment. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Bharat Rasayan'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.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. In the last three years, Bharat Rasayan's free cash flow amounted to 34% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

Happily, Bharat Rasayan's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But truth be told we feel its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow does undermine this impression a bit. Taking all this data into account, it seems to us that Bharat Rasayan takes a pretty sensible approach to debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. 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 example Bharat Rasayan has 3 warning signs (and 1 which can't be ignored) we think you should know about.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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