Savor (NZSE:SVR) Use Of Debt Could Be Considered Risky

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 18, 2021
NZSE:SVR
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. As with many other companies Savor Limited (NZSE:SVR) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free 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 common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Savor

How Much Debt Does Savor Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of September 2021 Savor had NZ$14.2m of debt, an increase on NZ$7.43m, over one year. However, it does have NZ$2.70m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about NZ$11.5m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NZSE:SVR Debt to Equity History November 19th 2021

How Healthy Is Savor's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Savor had liabilities of NZ$12.4m falling due within a year, and liabilities of NZ$28.4m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of NZ$2.70m as well as receivables valued at NZ$508.0k due within 12 months. So its liabilities total NZ$37.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's NZ$30.4m market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. In the scenario where the company had to clean up its balance sheet quickly, it seems likely shareholders would suffer extensive dilution.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

While Savor's debt to EBITDA ratio (3.9) suggests that it uses some debt, its interest cover is very weak, at 0.96, suggesting high leverage. In large part that's due to the company's significant depreciation and amortisation charges, which arguably mean its EBITDA is a very generous measure of earnings, and its debt may be more of a burden than it first appears. It seems clear that the cost of borrowing money is negatively impacting returns for shareholders, of late. One redeeming factor for Savor is that it turned last year's EBIT loss into a gain of NZ$979k, over the last twelve months. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Savor's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. 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 it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. During the last year, Savor burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

To be frank both Savor's interest cover and its track record of converting EBIT to free cash flow make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least its EBIT growth rate is not so bad. Taking into account all the aforementioned factors, it looks like Savor has too much debt. While some investors love that sort of risky play, it's certainly not our cup of tea. 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. We've identified 3 warning signs with Savor (at least 1 which makes us a bit uncomfortable) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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