Stock Analysis

Here's Why Nizhnekamskneftekhim (MCX:NKNC) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

MISX:NKNC
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The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. As with many other companies Public Joint Stock Company Nizhnekamskneftekhim (MCX:NKNC) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Nizhnekamskneftekhim

What Is Nizhnekamskneftekhim's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2020 Nizhnekamskneftekhim had ₽97.3b of debt, an increase on ₽50.1b, over one year. However, it does have ₽34.1b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₽63.2b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
MISX:NKNC Debt to Equity History April 12th 2021

A Look At Nizhnekamskneftekhim's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Nizhnekamskneftekhim had liabilities of ₽25.3b due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₽104.8b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of ₽34.1b as well as receivables valued at ₽12.7b due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling ₽83.3b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This deficit isn't so bad because Nizhnekamskneftekhim is worth ₽156.9b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without 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.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim's net debt to EBITDA ratio of about 2.2 suggests only moderate use of debt. And its strong interest cover of 1k times, makes us even more comfortable. Importantly, Nizhnekamskneftekhim's EBIT fell a jaw-dropping 21% in the last twelve months. If that decline continues then paying off debt will be harder than selling foie gras at a vegan convention. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Nizhnekamskneftekhim 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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Nizhnekamskneftekhim burned a lot of cash. 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

To be frank both Nizhnekamskneftekhim's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and its track record of (not) growing its EBIT make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But on the bright side, its interest cover is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Overall, we think it's fair to say that Nizhnekamskneftekhim has enough debt that there are some real risks around the balance sheet. If everything goes well that may pay off but the downside of this debt is a greater risk of permanent losses. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Nizhnekamskneftekhim (1 is a bit unpleasant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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About MISX:NKNC

Nizhnekamskneftekhim

Public Joint Stock Company Nizhnekamskneftekhim produces and sells petrochemicals in Russia.

Good value with mediocre balance sheet.

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