Stock Analysis

Does Palred Technologies (NSE:PALREDTEC) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

NSEI:PALREDTEC
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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. Importantly, Palred Technologies Limited (NSE:PALREDTEC) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Palred Technologies

What Is Palred Technologies's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at March 2022 Palred Technologies had debt of ₹335.5m, up from ₹301.1m in one year. However, it does have ₹240.5m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₹95.0m.

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NSEI:PALREDTEC Debt to Equity History September 10th 2022

How Healthy Is Palred Technologies' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Palred Technologies had liabilities of ₹348.7m due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₹24.2m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had ₹240.5m in cash and ₹138.7m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its total liabilities are just about perfectly matched by its shorter-term, liquid assets.

Having regard to Palred Technologies' size, it seems that its liquid assets are well balanced with its total liabilities. So it's very unlikely that the ₹1.62b company is short on cash, but still worth keeping an eye on the balance sheet.

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).

Weak interest cover of 0.14 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 7.8 hit our confidence in Palred Technologies like a one-two punch to the gut. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Worse, Palred Technologies's EBIT was down 90% over the last year. If earnings continue to follow that trajectory, paying off that debt load will be harder than convincing us to run a marathon in the rain. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is Palred Technologies'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. Over the last two years, Palred Technologies 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.

Our View

On the face of it, Palred Technologies's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow left us tentative about the stock, and its EBIT growth rate was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But on the bright side, its level of total liabilities is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. We're quite clear that we consider Palred Technologies to be really rather risky, as a result of its balance sheet health. So we're almost as wary of this stock as a hungry kitten is about falling into its owner's fish pond: once bitten, twice shy, as they say. 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 - Palred Technologies has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

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.