Nemak S. A. B. de C. V (BMV:NEMAKA) Has A Somewhat Strained Balance Sheet

Simply Wall St
March 18, 2022
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Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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 Nemak, S. A. B. de C. V. (BMV:NEMAKA) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Nemak S. A. B. de C. V

How Much Debt Does Nemak S. A. B. de C. V Carry?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Nemak S. A. B. de C. V had Mex$30.5b in debt in December 2021; about the same as the year before. On the flip side, it has Mex$5.80b in cash leading to net debt of about Mex$24.7b.

BMV:NEMAK A Debt to Equity History March 18th 2022

A Look At Nemak S. A. B. de C. V's Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that Nemak S. A. B. de C. V had liabilities of Mex$33.9b due within a year, and liabilities of Mex$32.0b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had Mex$5.80b in cash and Mex$10.4b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total Mex$49.7b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit casts a shadow over the Mex$15.0b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. At the end of the day, Nemak S. A. B. de C. V would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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

Even though Nemak S. A. B. de C. V's debt is only 2.2, its interest cover is really very low at 2.1. The main reason for this is that it has such high depreciation and amortisation. These charges may be non-cash, so they could be excluded when it comes to paying down debt. But the accounting charges are there for a reason -- some assets are seen to be losing value. Either way there's no doubt the stock is using meaningful leverage. It is well worth noting that Nemak S. A. B. de C. V's EBIT shot up like bamboo after rain, gaining 61% in the last twelve months. That'll make it easier to manage its debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Nemak S. A. B. de C. V's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. 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 clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. During the last three years, Nemak S. A. B. de C. V produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 69% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Neither Nemak S. A. B. de C. V's ability to handle its total liabilities nor its interest cover gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But the good news is it seems to be able to grow its EBIT with ease. When we consider all the factors discussed, it seems to us that Nemak S. A. B. de C. V is taking some risks with its use of debt. While that debt can boost returns, we think the company has enough leverage now. 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. We've identified 3 warning signs with Nemak S. A. B. de C. V (at least 1 which is concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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