Are Bouvet ASA’s (OB:BOUVET) Interest Costs Too High?

Zero-debt allows substantial financial flexibility, especially for small-cap companies like Bouvet ASA (OB:BOUVET), as the company does not have to adhere to strict debt covenants. However, it also faces higher cost of capital given interest cost is generally lower than equity. Zero-debt can alleviate some risk associated with the company meeting debt obligations, but this doesn’t automatically mean BOUVET has outstanding financial strength. I will go over a basic overview of the stock’s financial health, which I believe provides a ballpark estimate of their financial health status.

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Is BOUVET right in choosing financial flexibility over lower cost of capital?

Debt capital generally has lower cost of capital compared to equity funding. Though, the trade-offs are that lenders require stricter capital management requirements, in addition to having a higher claim on company assets relative to shareholders. BOUVET’s absence of debt on its balance sheet may be due to lack of access to cheaper capital, or it may simply believe low cost is not worth sacrificing financial flexibility. However, choosing flexibility over capital returns is logical only if it’s a high-growth company. A revenue growth in the teens is not considered high-growth. BOUVET’s revenue growth of 16% falls into this range. While its low growth hardly justifies opting for zero-debt, the company may have high growth projects in the pipeline to justify the trade-off.

OB:BOUVET Historical Debt January 12th 19
OB:BOUVET Historical Debt January 12th 19

Can BOUVET pay its short-term liabilities?

Since Bouvet doesn’t have any debt on its balance sheet, it doesn’t have any solvency issues, which is a term used to describe the company’s ability to meet its long-term obligations. But another important aspect of financial health is liquidity: the company’s ability to meet short-term obligations, including payments to suppliers and employees. Looking at BOUVET’s øre397m in current liabilities, it seems that the business has been able to meet these obligations given the level of current assets of øre493m, with a current ratio of 1.24x. For IT companies, this ratio is within a sensible range since there’s a sufficient cash cushion without leaving too much capital idle or in low-earning investments.

Next Steps:

Having no debt on the books means BOUVET has more financial freedom to keep growing at its current fast rate. Since there is also no concerns around BOUVET’s liquidity needs, this may be its optimal capital structure for the time being. In the future, its financial position may be different. This is only a rough assessment of financial health, and I’m sure BOUVET has company-specific issues impacting its capital structure decisions. I suggest you continue to research Bouvet to get a better picture of the stock by looking at:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for BOUVET’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for BOUVET’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is BOUVET worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether BOUVET is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.