Stock Analysis

Does KCP (NSE:KCP) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

NSEI:KCP
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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. We can see that The KCP Limited (NSE:KCP) does use debt in its business. 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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. 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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What Is KCP's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at September 2020 KCP had debt of ₹5.29b, up from ₹4.62b in one year. However, it does have ₹3.19b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹2.10b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:KCP Debt to Equity History March 15th 2021

How Healthy Is KCP's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, KCP had liabilities of ₹4.76b due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₹4.53b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of ₹3.19b as well as receivables valued at ₹875.8m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₹5.23b.

This deficit isn't so bad because KCP is worth ₹10.4b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

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). 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).

While KCP's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 0.63 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 4.6 times last year does give us pause. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. Pleasingly, KCP is growing its EBIT faster than former Australian PM Bob Hawke downs a yard glass, boasting a 113% gain in the last twelve months. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since KCP 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 company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. 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, KCP's free cash flow amounted to 47% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

Happily, KCP's impressive EBIT growth rate implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its level of total liabilities. All these things considered, it appears that KCP can comfortably handle its current debt levels. 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. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for KCP (1 is a bit concerning) you should be aware of.

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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