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.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. We can see that Tomra Systems ASA (OB:TOM) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
Why Does Debt Bring Risk?
Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
How Much Debt Does Tomra Systems Carry?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Tomra Systems had debt of kr1.65b at the end of June 2021, a reduction from kr2.05b over a year. However, it does have kr514.1m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about kr1.14b.
A Look At Tomra Systems' Liabilities
The latest balance sheet data shows that Tomra Systems had liabilities of kr1.16b due within a year, and liabilities of kr4.63b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had kr514.1m in cash and kr2.67b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling kr2.62b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
Given Tomra Systems has a market capitalization of kr72.1b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse.
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.
Tomra Systems has a low debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.59. And remarkably, despite having net debt, it actually received more in interest over the last twelve months than it had to pay. So it's fair to say it can handle debt like a hotshot teppanyaki chef handles cooking. In addition to that, we're happy to report that Tomra Systems has boosted its EBIT by 32%, thus reducing the spectre of future debt repayments. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Tomra Systems'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 always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Tomra Systems recorded free cash flow worth 62% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.
Tomra Systems's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And the good news does not stop there, as its EBIT growth rate also supports that impression! Considering this range of factors, it seems to us that Tomra Systems is quite prudent with its debt, and the risks seem well managed. So the balance sheet looks pretty healthy, to us. 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. Be aware that Tomra Systems is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...
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.
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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