Adevinta (OB:ADE) Has A Pretty Healthy Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
February 22, 2022
OB:ADE
Source: Shutterstock

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.' 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. Importantly, Adevinta ASA (OB:ADE) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Adevinta

What Is Adevinta's Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of September 2021, Adevinta had €2.46b of debt, up from €419.1m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have €232.0m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about €2.23b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
OB:ADE Debt to Equity History February 22nd 2022

How Healthy Is Adevinta's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Adevinta had liabilities of €588.0m due within 12 months and liabilities of €3.37b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had €232.0m in cash and €241.0m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by €3.49b.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Adevinta has a huge market capitalization of €9.39b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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.

With a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 9.5, it's fair to say Adevinta does have a significant amount of debt. But the good news is that it boasts fairly comforting interest cover of 4.4 times, suggesting it can responsibly service its obligations. The good news is that Adevinta grew its EBIT a smooth 32% over the last twelve months. Like the milk of human kindness that sort of growth increases resilience, making the company more capable of managing 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 Adevinta can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. In the last three years, Adevinta's free cash flow amounted to 49% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

Adevinta's net debt to EBITDA was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered were considerably better. There's no doubt that its ability to to grow its EBIT is pretty flash. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about Adevinta's use of debt. While we appreciate debt can enhance returns on equity, we'd suggest that shareholders keep close watch on its debt levels, lest they increase. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Adevinta (1 is concerning) you should be aware of.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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