These 4 Measures Indicate That Shankara Building Products (NSE:SHANKARA) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 30, 2021
NSEI:SHANKARA
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.' 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. We note that Shankara Building Products Limited (NSE:SHANKARA) does have debt on its balance sheet. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Shankara Building Products

What Is Shankara Building Products's Net Debt?

As you can see below, Shankara Building Products had ₹1.28b of debt at September 2021, down from ₹1.91b a year prior. However, it does have ₹66.0m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹1.21b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:SHANKARA Debt to Equity History December 1st 2021

How Healthy Is Shankara Building Products' Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Shankara Building Products had liabilities of ₹3.80b falling due within a year, and liabilities of ₹575.5m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of ₹66.0m and ₹2.95b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₹1.35b.

Given Shankara Building Products has a market capitalization of ₹11.3b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse.

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

Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 1.3 and interest cover of 3.1 times, it seems to us that Shankara Building Products is probably using debt in a pretty reasonable way. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. Importantly, Shankara Building Products grew its EBIT by 82% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. 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 Shankara Building Products 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 we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Shankara Building Products actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

The good news is that Shankara Building Products's demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. But we must concede we find its interest cover has the opposite effect. Looking at the bigger picture, we think Shankara Building Products's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. While debt does bring risk, when used wisely it can also bring a higher return on equity. 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 2 warning signs for Shankara Building Products (of which 1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) you should know about.

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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