Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Avarga (SGX:U09) Is Using Debt Extensively

SGX:U09
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Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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 Avarga Limited (SGX:U09) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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 common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

Check out our latest analysis for Avarga

What Is Avarga's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Avarga had S$58.6m of debt in June 2022, down from S$167.2m, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of S$14.6m, its net debt is less, at about S$44.0m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SGX:U09 Debt to Equity History September 29th 2022

How Healthy Is Avarga's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Avarga had liabilities of S$271.9m due within 12 months and liabilities of S$127.9m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had S$14.6m in cash and S$309.5m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by S$75.6m.

This deficit isn't so bad because Avarga is worth S$168.0m, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

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

Avarga has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.38. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 10.2 times the size. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. In fact Avarga's saving grace is its low debt levels, because its EBIT has tanked 49% in the last twelve months. When it comes to paying off debt, falling earnings are no more useful than sugary sodas are for your health. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Avarga will need earnings to service that debt. 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 always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, Avarga produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 59% 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

Avarga's struggle to grow its EBIT had us second guessing its balance sheet strength, but the other data-points we considered were relatively redeeming. In particular, its net debt to EBITDA was re-invigorating. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Avarga is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since leverage can boost returns on equity, but it is something to be aware of. 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 - Avarga has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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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.