Is Train Alliance Sweden (STO:TRAIN B) A Risky Investment?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 12, 2022
OM:TRAIN B
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. We note that Train Alliance Sweden AB (publ) (STO:TRAIN B) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Train Alliance Sweden

What Is Train Alliance Sweden's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Train Alliance Sweden had debt of kr199.7m at the end of December 2021, a reduction from kr225.6m over a year. On the flip side, it has kr136.0m in cash leading to net debt of about kr63.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
OM:TRAIN B Debt to Equity History May 12th 2022

How Strong Is Train Alliance Sweden's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Train Alliance Sweden had liabilities of kr49.4m falling due within a year, and liabilities of kr192.9m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of kr136.0m and kr14.4m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by kr91.9m.

Since publicly traded Train Alliance Sweden shares are worth a total of kr2.39b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Train Alliance Sweden has net debt worth 2.1 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 3.0 times the interest expense. While that doesn't worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. Importantly, Train Alliance Sweden's EBIT fell a jaw-dropping 38% in the last twelve months. If that earnings trend continues then paying off its debt will be about as easy as herding cats on to a roller coaster. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Train Alliance Sweden'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, 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. Over the last three years, Train Alliance Sweden saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

To be frank both Train Alliance Sweden'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 level of total liabilities is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Looking at the bigger picture, it seems clear to us that Train Alliance Sweden's use of debt is creating risks for the company. If everything goes well that may pay off but the downside of this debt is a greater risk of permanent losses. 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. We've identified 4 warning signs with Train Alliance Sweden (at least 3 which are a bit concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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