Does Stamford Tyres (SGX:S29) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 11, 2022
SGX:S29
Source: Shutterstock

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 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 can see that Stamford Tyres Corporation Limited (SGX:S29) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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 thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Stamford Tyres

What Is Stamford Tyres's Debt?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Stamford Tyres had S$88.1m in debt in October 2021; about the same as the year before. However, it does have S$27.0m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about S$61.0m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SGX:S29 Debt to Equity History January 11th 2022

A Look At Stamford Tyres' Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that Stamford Tyres had liabilities of S$102.9m due within a year, and liabilities of S$28.8m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of S$27.0m and S$42.0m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by S$62.6m.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's S$44.2m market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. Hypothetically, extremely heavy dilution would be required if the company were forced to pay down its liabilities by raising capital at the current share price.

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.

Weak interest cover of 1.8 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 5.2 hit our confidence in Stamford Tyres like a one-two punch to the gut. The debt burden here is substantial. However, it should be some comfort for shareholders to recall that Stamford Tyres actually grew its EBIT by a hefty 294%, over the last 12 months. If it can keep walking that path it will be in a position to shed its debt with relative ease. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Stamford Tyres'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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Stamford Tyres actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

While Stamford Tyres's interest cover has us nervous. To wit both its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and EBIT growth rate were encouraging signs. When we consider all the factors discussed, it seems to us that Stamford Tyres is taking some risks with its use of debt. So while that leverage does boost returns on equity, we wouldn't really want to see it increase from here. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. To that end, you should learn about the 4 warning signs we've spotted with Stamford Tyres (including 2 which can't be ignored) .

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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