Grupo Minsa. de (BMV:MINSAB) Takes On Some Risk With Its Use Of Debt

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 25, 2021
BMV:MINSA B
Source: Shutterstock

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 seems the smart money knows that debt - which is usually involved in bankruptcies - is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. Importantly, Grupo Minsa, S.A.B. de C.V. (BMV:MINSAB) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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. 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. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Grupo Minsa. de

What Is Grupo Minsa. de's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Grupo Minsa. de had Mex$717.4m of debt in September 2021, down from Mex$1.05b, one year before. However, it does have Mex$92.7m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about Mex$624.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
BMV:MINSA B Debt to Equity History November 26th 2021

How Healthy Is Grupo Minsa. de's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Grupo Minsa. de had liabilities of Mex$1.07b falling due within a year, and liabilities of Mex$252.6m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of Mex$92.7m and Mex$1.50b worth of receivables due within a year. So it actually has Mex$270.3m more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This surplus suggests that Grupo Minsa. de has a conservative balance sheet, and could probably eliminate its debt without much difficulty.

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.

Grupo Minsa. de's net debt is 2.5 times its EBITDA, which is a significant but still reasonable amount of leverage. But its EBIT was about 16.3 times its interest expense, implying the company isn't really paying a high cost to maintain that level of debt. Even were the low cost to prove unsustainable, that is a good sign. Importantly, Grupo Minsa. de's EBIT fell a jaw-dropping 38% in the last twelve months. If that earnings trend continues then paying off its debt will be about as easy as herding cats on to a roller coaster. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Grupo Minsa. de will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. During the last three years, Grupo Minsa. de burned a lot of cash. 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

Neither Grupo Minsa. de's ability to grow its EBIT nor its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But the good news is it seems to be able to cover its interest expense with its EBIT with ease. Taking the abovementioned factors together we do think Grupo Minsa. de's debt poses some risks to the business. So while that leverage does boost returns on equity, we wouldn't really want to see it increase from here. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example - Grupo Minsa. de has 1 warning sign 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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