These 4 Measures Indicate That Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (AMS:CCEP) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well
Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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 Coca-Cola Europacific Partners PLC (AMS:CCEP) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
What Risk Does Debt Bring?
Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
See our latest analysis for Coca-Cola Europacific Partners
How Much Debt Does Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Carry?
As you can see below, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners had €12.1b of debt, at December 2022, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of €1.64b, its net debt is less, at about €10.5b.
How Strong Is Coca-Cola Europacific Partners' Balance Sheet?
According to the last reported balance sheet, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners had liabilities of €7.31b due within 12 months, and liabilities of €14.6b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of €1.64b and €2.69b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by €17.5b.
This deficit is considerable relative to its very significant market capitalization of €24.0b, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on Coca-Cola Europacific Partners' use of debt. 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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
Coca-Cola Europacific Partners has a debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.7, which signals significant debt, but is still pretty reasonable for most types of business. However, its interest coverage of 17.5 is very high, suggesting that the interest expense on the debt is currently quite low. Also relevant is that Coca-Cola Europacific Partners has grown its EBIT by a very respectable 26% in the last year, thus enhancing its ability to pay down debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Coca-Cola Europacific Partners 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 the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.
Coca-Cola Europacific Partners'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 net debt to EBITDA. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Coca-Cola Europacific Partners can handle its debt fairly comfortably. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example - Coca-Cola Europacific Partners has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
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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Coca-Cola Europacific Partners
Coca-Cola Europacific Partners PLC, together with its subsidiaries, produces, distributes, and sells a range of non-alcoholic ready to drink beverages.
Undervalued with solid track record.