Is Renaissance United (SGX:I11) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
July 24, 2021
SGX:I11
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. As with many other companies Renaissance United Limited (SGX:I11) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Renaissance United

How Much Debt Does Renaissance United Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Renaissance United had debt of S$22.2m at the end of April 2021, a reduction from S$24.4m over a year. However, it also had S$16.2m in cash, and so its net debt is S$6.00m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SGX:I11 Debt to Equity History July 25th 2021

How Strong Is Renaissance United's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Renaissance United had liabilities of S$50.5m due within 12 months and liabilities of S$14.2m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of S$16.2m as well as receivables valued at S$16.4m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by S$32.2m.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the S$12.4m company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, Renaissance United would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 0.58 and interest cover of 3.4 times, it seems to us that Renaissance United is probably using debt in a pretty reasonable way. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. Notably, Renaissance United made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, but improved that to positive EBIT of S$5.0m in the last twelve months. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Renaissance United will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. Over the last year, Renaissance United actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

Renaissance United's level of total liabilities and interest cover definitely weigh on it, in our esteem. But the good news is it seems to be able to convert EBIT to free cash flow with ease. It's also worth noting that Renaissance United is in the Gas Utilities industry, which is often considered to be quite defensive. When we consider all the factors discussed, it seems to us that Renaissance United 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. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Renaissance United (including 2 which are a bit unpleasant) .

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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