Stock Analysis

Is Shigematsu Works (TYO:7980) Using Too Much Debt?

TSE:7980
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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.' 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. Importantly, Shigematsu Works Co., Ltd. (TYO:7980) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Shigematsu Works

What Is Shigematsu Works's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of December 2020, Shigematsu Works had JP¥3.64b of debt, up from JP¥3.26b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of JP¥1.32b, its net debt is less, at about JP¥2.32b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
JASDAQ:7980 Debt to Equity History February 27th 2021

How Strong Is Shigematsu Works' Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Shigematsu Works had liabilities of JP¥6.18b due within 12 months and liabilities of JP¥1.72b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of JP¥1.32b and JP¥2.62b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by JP¥3.96b.

Shigematsu Works has a market capitalization of JP¥6.96b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

We'd say that Shigematsu Works's moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 1.6), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its commanding EBIT of 1k times its interest expense, implies the debt load is as light as a peacock feather. Even more impressive was the fact that Shigematsu Works grew its EBIT by 368% over twelve months. If maintained that growth will make the debt even more manageable in the years ahead. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Shigematsu Works'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 always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. In the last three years, Shigematsu Works's free cash flow amounted to 37% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

Shigematsu Works's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its level of total liabilities. All these things considered, it appears that Shigematsu Works can comfortably handle its current debt levels. Of course, while this leverage can enhance returns on equity, it does bring more risk, so it's worth keeping an eye on this one. 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. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Shigematsu Works 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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