Here's Why GHCL (NSE:GHCL) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 27, 2021
NSEI:GHCL
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. As with many other companies GHCL Limited (NSE:GHCL) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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 step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for GHCL

What Is GHCL's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that GHCL had debt of ₹7.88b at the end of March 2021, a reduction from ₹12.5b over a year. However, it does have ₹359.8m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹7.52b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:GHCL Debt to Equity History September 28th 2021

A Look At GHCL's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that GHCL had liabilities of ₹6.53b due within 12 months and liabilities of ₹8.41b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of ₹359.8m and ₹2.42b worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling ₹12.2b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

GHCL has a market capitalization of ₹41.9b, 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).

GHCL has net debt of just 1.00 times EBITDA, indicating that it is certainly not a reckless borrower. And it boasts interest cover of 8.7 times, which is more than adequate. In addition to that, we're happy to report that GHCL has boosted its EBIT by 36%, thus reducing the spectre of future debt repayments. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if GHCL can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

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. During the last three years, GHCL produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 65% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

The good news is that GHCL's demonstrated ability to grow its EBIT delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And the good news does not stop there, as its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow also supports that impression! Zooming out, GHCL seems to use debt quite reasonably; and that gets the nod from us. After all, sensible leverage can boost returns on equity. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example - GHCL has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

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.

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.

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Simply Wall St

Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.