Stock Analysis

Is MIDI (MTSE:MDI) Using Too Much Debt?

MTSE:MDI
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David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the 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 can see that MIDI p.l.c. (MTSE:MDI) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. 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. 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 MIDI

How Much Debt Does MIDI Carry?

As you can see below, MIDI had €59.5m of debt, at June 2021, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. On the flip side, it has €13.1m in cash leading to net debt of about €46.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
MTSE:MDI Debt to Equity History September 24th 2021

How Healthy Is MIDI's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that MIDI had liabilities of €54.1m due within 12 months and liabilities of €71.1m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had €13.1m in cash and €2.41m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €109.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's €87.4m 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.

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.

Weak interest cover of 0.59 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 29.1 hit our confidence in MIDI like a one-two punch to the gut. The debt burden here is substantial. Worse, MIDI's EBIT was down 79% over the last year. If earnings keep going like that over the long term, it has a snowball's chance in hell of paying off that debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is MIDI'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 clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, MIDI 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

To be frank both MIDI's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and its track record of (not) growing its EBIT make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. And even its net debt to EBITDA fails to inspire much confidence. We think the chances that MIDI has too much debt a very significant. To us, that makes the stock rather risky, like walking through a dog park with your eyes closed. But some investors may feel differently. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with MIDI .

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.

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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.
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