- OM:LATO B
Is Investment AB Latour (STO:LATO B) Using Too Much Debt?
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.' 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, Investment AB Latour (publ) (STO:LATO B) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
What Risk Does Debt Bring?
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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
See our latest analysis for Investment AB Latour
What Is Investment AB Latour's Net Debt?
As you can see below, at the end of December 2022, Investment AB Latour had kr12.6b of debt, up from kr9.78b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have kr1.71b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about kr10.8b.
How Healthy Is Investment AB Latour's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Investment AB Latour had liabilities of kr8.66b due within a year, and liabilities of kr11.5b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of kr1.71b and kr5.53b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by kr12.9b.
Of course, Investment AB Latour has a titanic market capitalization of kr136.0b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.
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).
Investment AB Latour's net debt is 2.9 times its EBITDA, which is a significant but still reasonable amount of leverage. However, its interest coverage of 1k is very high, suggesting that the interest expense on the debt is currently quite low. We note that Investment AB Latour grew its EBIT by 24% in the last year, and that should make it easier to pay down debt, going forward. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Investment AB Latour's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.
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, Investment AB Latour produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 62% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.
The good news is that Investment AB Latour's demonstrated ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its net debt to EBITDA. Zooming out, Investment AB Latour seems to use debt quite reasonably; and that gets the nod from us. After all, sensible leverage can boost returns on equity. Over time, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, so if you're interested in Investment AB Latour, you may well want to click here to check an interactive graph of its earnings per share history.
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.
About OM:LATO B
Investment AB Latour
Investment AB Latour (publ) is an investment firm.
Adequate balance sheet second-rate dividend payer.