Stock Analysis

Is Lasa Supergenerics (NSE:LASA) Using Too Much Debt?

NSEI:LASA
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Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. As with many other companies Lasa Supergenerics Limited (NSE:LASA) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt A Problem?

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 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

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How Much Debt Does Lasa Supergenerics Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Lasa Supergenerics had ₹196.9m of debt in September 2021, down from ₹215.2m, one year before. However, it does have ₹57.5m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹139.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:LASA Debt to Equity History December 7th 2021

How Healthy Is Lasa Supergenerics' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Lasa Supergenerics had liabilities of ₹450.4m due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₹80.8m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of ₹57.5m as well as receivables valued at ₹57.6m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₹416.2m.

Since publicly traded Lasa Supergenerics shares are worth a total of ₹2.64b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.

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).

With net debt sitting at just 0.50 times EBITDA, Lasa Supergenerics is arguably pretty conservatively geared. And this view is supported by the solid interest coverage, with EBIT coming in at 7.9 times the interest expense over the last year. The modesty of its debt load may become crucial for Lasa Supergenerics if management cannot prevent a repeat of the 56% cut to EBIT over the last year. When it comes to paying off debt, falling earnings are no more useful than sugary sodas are for your health. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Lasa Supergenerics'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, 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. During the last two years, Lasa Supergenerics produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 72% 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

Lasa Supergenerics's EBIT growth rate was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered were considerably better. In particular, we are dazzled with its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. Considering this range of data points, we think Lasa Supergenerics is in a good position to manage its debt levels. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Lasa Supergenerics .

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.

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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.