Is Enea (STO:ENEA) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 12, 2022
OM:ENEA
Source: Shutterstock

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 seems the smart money knows that debt - which is usually involved in bankruptcies - is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. We note that Enea AB (publ) (STO:ENEA) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Enea

What Is Enea's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of September 2021 Enea had kr791.0m of debt, an increase on kr301.6m, over one year. However, it does have kr176.4m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about kr614.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
OM:ENEA Debt to Equity History January 12th 2022

How Strong Is Enea's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Enea had liabilities of kr546.1m due within 12 months, and liabilities of kr738.6m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of kr176.4m as well as receivables valued at kr461.0m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling kr647.3m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Given Enea has a market capitalization of kr5.55b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much 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.

We'd say that Enea's moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 2.3), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its commanding EBIT of 1k times its interest expense, implies the debt load is as light as a peacock feather. If Enea can keep growing EBIT at last year's rate of 15% over the last year, then it will find its debt load easier to manage. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Enea'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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, Enea produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 63% 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.

Our View

Happily, Enea's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And the good news does not stop there, as its EBIT growth rate also supports that impression! Taking all this data into account, it seems to us that Enea takes a pretty sensible approach to debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. Of course, we wouldn't say no to the extra confidence that we'd gain if we knew that Enea insiders have been buying shares: if you're on the same wavelength, you can find out if insiders are buying by clicking this link.

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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