Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That KGL (WSE:KGL) Is Using Debt Extensively

WSE:KGL
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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. As with many other companies KGL SA (WSE:KGL) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for KGL

What Is KGL's Net Debt?

As you can see below, KGL had zł44.0m of debt at September 2023, down from zł92.1m a year prior. However, it also had zł2.69m in cash, and so its net debt is zł41.3m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
WSE:KGL Debt to Equity History March 12th 2024

A Look At KGL's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, KGL had liabilities of zł159.2m due within 12 months, and liabilities of zł69.6m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had zł2.69m in cash and zł38.1m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by zł188.1m.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the zł99.8m company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, KGL would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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). 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).

KGL has a very low debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.0 so it is strange to see weak interest coverage, with last year's EBIT being only 1.5 times the interest expense. So one way or the other, it's clear the debt levels are not trivial. Pleasingly, KGL is growing its EBIT faster than former Australian PM Bob Hawke downs a yard glass, boasting a 11,484% gain in the last twelve months. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since KGL will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, KGL actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

We feel some trepidation about KGL's difficulty level of total liabilities, but we've got positives to focus on, too. To wit both its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and EBIT growth rate were encouraging signs. We think that KGL's debt does make it a bit risky, after considering the aforementioned data points together. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since leverage can boost returns on equity, but it is something to be aware of. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. We've identified 2 warning signs with KGL (at least 1 which can't be ignored) , 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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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.