Stock Analysis

Torrent Power (NSE:TORNTPOWER) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

NSEI:TORNTPOWER
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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.' 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, Torrent Power Limited (NSE:TORNTPOWER) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Torrent Power

What Is Torrent Power's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at September 2022 Torrent Power had debt of ₹104.0b, up from ₹76.3b in one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of ₹9.05b, its net debt is less, at about ₹94.9b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NSEI:TORNTPOWER Debt to Equity History January 19th 2023

How Strong Is Torrent Power's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Torrent Power had liabilities of ₹63.0b due within a year, and liabilities of ₹119.1b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had ₹9.05b in cash and ₹28.9b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₹144.1b.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of ₹230.5b. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe 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). 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).

Torrent Power has net debt worth 2.3 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 4.6 times the interest expense. While these numbers do not alarm us, it's worth noting that the cost of the company's debt is having a real impact. It is well worth noting that Torrent Power's EBIT shot up like bamboo after rain, gaining 32% in the last twelve months. That'll make it easier to manage its debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Torrent Power can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, Torrent Power recorded free cash flow of 49% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

When it comes to the balance sheet, the standout positive for Torrent Power was the fact that it seems able to grow its EBIT confidently. But the other factors we noted above weren't so encouraging. For example, its level of total liabilities makes us a little nervous about its debt. It's also worth noting that Torrent Power is in the Electric Utilities industry, which is often considered to be quite defensive. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that Torrent Power is managing its debt quite well. But a word of caution: we think debt levels are high enough to justify ongoing monitoring. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for Torrent Power you should be aware of, and 1 of them makes us a bit uncomfortable.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Torrent Power is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.