Stock Analysis

Alembic Pharmaceuticals (NSE:APLLTD) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

NSEI:APLLTD
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David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' 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 Alembic Pharmaceuticals Limited (NSE:APLLTD) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Alembic Pharmaceuticals

What Is Alembic Pharmaceuticals's Net Debt?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Alembic Pharmaceuticals had ₹6.36b in debt in March 2023; about the same as the year before. However, it does have ₹822.7m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹5.54b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:APLLTD Debt to Equity History June 9th 2023

How Healthy Is Alembic Pharmaceuticals' Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Alembic Pharmaceuticals had liabilities of ₹16.4b due within 12 months and liabilities of ₹1.75b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of ₹822.7m and ₹11.3b worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling ₹6.01b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Of course, Alembic Pharmaceuticals has a market capitalization of ₹116.2b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.

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).

With net debt sitting at just 0.78 times EBITDA, Alembic Pharmaceuticals is arguably pretty conservatively geared. And it boasts interest cover of 8.6 times, which is more than adequate. In fact Alembic Pharmaceuticals's saving grace is its low debt levels, because its EBIT has tanked 26% in the last twelve months. Falling earnings (if the trend continues) could eventually make even modest debt quite risky. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Alembic Pharmaceuticals's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. 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 always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, Alembic Pharmaceuticals produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 52% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

Alembic Pharmaceuticals's EBIT growth rate was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered were considerably better. There's no doubt that its ability to handle its debt, based on its EBITDA, is pretty flash. Looking at all this data makes us feel a little cautious about Alembic Pharmaceuticals's debt levels. While we appreciate debt can enhance returns on equity, we'd suggest that shareholders keep close watch on its debt levels, lest they increase. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example - Alembic Pharmaceuticals has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Alembic Pharmaceuticals is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.