Here's Why Compremum (WSE:CPR) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
February 23, 2022
WSE:CPR
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, Compremum S.A. (WSE:CPR) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

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. 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, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Compremum

What Is Compremum's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Compremum had zł92.5m of debt in September 2021, down from zł96.6m, one year before. However, it does have zł9.30m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about zł83.2m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
WSE:CPR Debt to Equity History February 23rd 2022

How Healthy Is Compremum's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Compremum had liabilities of zł178.5m due within 12 months and liabilities of zł100.6m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of zł9.30m as well as receivables valued at zł269.9m due within 12 months. So its total liabilities are just about perfectly matched by its shorter-term, liquid assets.

This state of affairs indicates that Compremum's balance sheet looks quite solid, as its total liabilities are just about equal to its liquid assets. So while it's hard to imagine that the zł143.5m company is struggling for cash, we still think it's worth monitoring its balance sheet.

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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Compremum's net debt to EBITDA ratio of about 1.6 suggests only moderate use of debt. And its commanding EBIT of 17.5 times its interest expense, implies the debt load is as light as a peacock feather. On the other hand, Compremum saw its EBIT drop by 3.9% in the last twelve months. That sort of decline, if sustained, will obviously make debt harder to handle. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Compremum's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last three years, Compremum recorded negative free cash flow, in total. Debt is usually more expensive, and almost always more risky in the hands of a company with negative free cash flow. Shareholders ought to hope for an improvement.

Our View

On our analysis Compremum's interest cover should signal that it won't have too much trouble with its debt. But the other factors we noted above weren't so encouraging. To be specific, it seems about as good at converting EBIT to free cash flow as wet socks are at keeping your feet warm. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about Compremum'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 example - Compremum 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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