Stock Analysis

Does Biogened (WSE:BGD) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

WSE:BGD
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Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. We can see that Biogened S.A. (WSE:BGD) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. 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. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Biogened

What Is Biogened's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2021 Biogened had zł17.1m of debt, an increase on zł16.0m, over one year. However, it also had zł4.97m in cash, and so its net debt is zł12.1m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
WSE:BGD Debt to Equity History March 25th 2022

How Strong Is Biogened's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Biogened had liabilities of zł20.1m due within 12 months, and liabilities of zł8.37m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of zł4.97m as well as receivables valued at zł24.7m due within 12 months. So it actually has zł1.17m more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This surplus suggests that Biogened has a conservative balance sheet, and could probably eliminate its debt without much difficulty.

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.

Biogened's net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 1.9 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 5.8 times last year. While these numbers do not alarm us, it's worth noting that the cost of the company's debt is having a real impact. Importantly, Biogened grew its EBIT by 45% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Biogened'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 we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Biogened actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

The good news is that Biogened's demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And the good news does not stop there, as its EBIT growth rate also supports that impression! Overall, we don't think Biogened is taking any bad risks, as its debt load seems modest. So the balance sheet looks pretty healthy, to us. 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. Be aware that Biogened is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is significant...

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Biogened is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.