Shilpa Medicare (NSE:SHILPAMED) Seems To Be Using A Lot Of Debt
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. We can see that Shilpa Medicare Limited (NSE:SHILPAMED) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
When Is Debt A Problem?
Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. 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.
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How Much Debt Does Shilpa Medicare Carry?
As you can see below, Shilpa Medicare had ₹8.03b of debt, at September 2022, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, it also had ₹571.6m in cash, and so its net debt is ₹7.46b.
How Strong Is Shilpa Medicare's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Shilpa Medicare had liabilities of ₹8.56b due within a year, and liabilities of ₹3.39b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of ₹571.6m and ₹3.80b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total ₹7.58b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
Shilpa Medicare has a market capitalization of ₹21.0b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.
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).
Weak interest cover of 0.87 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 5.4 hit our confidence in Shilpa Medicare like a one-two punch to the gut. The debt burden here is substantial. Even worse, Shilpa Medicare saw its EBIT tank 44% over the last 12 months. If earnings keep going like that over the long term, it has a snowball's chance in hell of paying off that debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Shilpa Medicare'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, Shilpa Medicare saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.
To be frank both Shilpa Medicare's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and its track record of (not) growing its EBIT make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least its level of total liabilities is not so bad. After considering the datapoints discussed, we think Shilpa Medicare has too much debt. While some investors love that sort of risky play, it's certainly not our cup of tea. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 6 warning signs for Shilpa Medicare (2 can't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
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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Shilpa Medicare Limited, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacturing and selling active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), intermediates, and formulations in India, the United States, Europe, and internationally.
Average dividend payer with mediocre balance sheet.