Stock Analysis

S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz (BVB:TGN) Use Of Debt Could Be Considered Risky

BVB:TGN
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Warren Buffett famously said, '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. We can see that S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz S.A. (BVB:TGN) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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 S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz

How Much Debt Does S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2021 S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz had RON2.03b of debt, an increase on RON1.71b, over one year. However, it also had RON415.0m in cash, and so its net debt is RON1.62b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
BVB:TGN Debt to Equity History April 16th 2022

How Healthy Is S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz had liabilities of RON912.6m due within a year, and liabilities of RON3.09b falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of RON415.0m as well as receivables valued at RON596.8m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total RON2.99b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's RON2.81b market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. Hypothetically, extremely heavy dilution would be required if the company were forced to pay down its liabilities by raising capital at the current share price.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz's net debt is 3.6 times its EBITDA, which is a significant but still reasonable amount of leverage. But its EBIT was about 1k times its interest expense, implying the company isn't really paying a high cost to maintain that level of debt. Even were the low cost to prove unsustainable, that is a good sign. Unfortunately, S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz's EBIT flopped 13% over the last four quarters. If that sort of decline is not arrested, then the managing its debt will be harder than selling broccoli flavoured ice-cream for a premium. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz'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, 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. Over the last three years, S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.

Our View

Mulling over S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz's attempt at converting EBIT to free cash flow, we're certainly not enthusiastic. But on the bright side, its interest cover is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Overall, it seems to us that S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. So we're almost as wary of this stock as a hungry kitten is about falling into its owner's fish pond: once bitten, twice shy, as they say. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz you should be aware of.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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

Find out whether S.N.T.G.N. Transgaz 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.