Here's Why V2 Retail (NSE:V2RETAIL) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 30, 2021
NSEI:V2RETAIL
Source: Shutterstock

The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. As with many other companies V2 Retail Limited (NSE:V2RETAIL) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for V2 Retail

What Is V2 Retail's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at September 2021 V2 Retail had debt of ₹554.8m, up from ₹156.0m in one year. However, it does have ₹67.4m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹487.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:V2RETAIL Debt to Equity History December 1st 2021

A Look At V2 Retail's Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that V2 Retail had liabilities of ₹2.50b due within a year, and liabilities of ₹3.05b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had ₹67.4m in cash and ₹55.7m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling ₹5.43b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's ₹5.38b market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. In the scenario where the company had to clean up its balance sheet quickly, it seems likely shareholders would suffer extensive dilution.

We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

While V2 Retail has a quite reasonable net debt to EBITDA multiple of 2.0, its interest cover seems weak, at 0.091. The main reason for this is that it has such high depreciation and amortisation. While companies often boast that these charges are non-cash, most such businesses will therefore require ongoing investment (that is not expensed.) In any case, it's safe to say the company has meaningful debt. Notably, V2 Retail made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, but improved that to positive EBIT of ₹30m in the last twelve months. 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 V2 Retail 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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, V2 Retail actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last year. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

Neither V2 Retail's ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT nor its level of total liabilities gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But the good news is it seems to be able to convert EBIT to free cash flow with ease. Taking the abovementioned factors together we do think V2 Retail's debt poses some risks to the business. So while that leverage does boost returns on equity, we wouldn't really want to see it increase from here. 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. Be aware that V2 Retail is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is a bit unpleasant...

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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