Is MMP Industries (NSE:MMP) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
June 30, 2021
NSEI:MMP
Source: Shutterstock

Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, '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 MMP Industries Limited (NSE:MMP) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. 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.

See our latest analysis for MMP Industries

What Is MMP Industries's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at March 2021 MMP Industries had debt of ₹295.1m, up from ₹166.2m in one year. However, it also had ₹63.4m in cash, and so its net debt is ₹231.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:MMP Debt to Equity History July 1st 2021

A Look At MMP Industries' Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that MMP Industries had liabilities of ₹537.5m falling due within a year, and liabilities of ₹89.5m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of ₹63.4m as well as receivables valued at ₹396.3m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₹167.3m.

Since publicly traded MMP Industries shares are worth a total of ₹2.57b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

MMP Industries's net debt is only 0.89 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 12.7 times over. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. On the other hand, MMP Industries's EBIT dived 15%, over the last year. We think hat kind of performance, if repeated frequently, could well lead to difficulties for the stock. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is MMP Industries's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept 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, MMP Industries saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

MMP Industries's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and EBIT growth rate definitely weigh on it, in our esteem. But its interest cover tells a very different story, and suggests some resilience. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that MMP Industries is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for MMP Industries (of which 1 can't be ignored!) you should know about.

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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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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