TPI Composites (NASDAQ:TPIC) Use Of Debt Could Be Considered Risky

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 22, 2021
NasdaqGM:TPIC
Source: Shutterstock

David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. We can see that TPI Composites, Inc. (NASDAQ:TPIC) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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 common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. Of course, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for TPI Composites

How Much Debt Does TPI Composites Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at September 2021 TPI Composites had debt of US$255.5m, up from US$228.8m in one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$119.0m, its net debt is less, at about US$136.5m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGM:TPIC Debt to Equity History November 22nd 2021

How Strong Is TPI Composites' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, TPI Composites had liabilities of US$663.3m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$168.3m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$119.0m as well as receivables valued at US$422.9m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$289.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

TPI Composites has a market capitalization of US$810.4m, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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.

While TPI Composites has a quite reasonable net debt to EBITDA multiple of 2.3, its interest cover seems weak, at 0.82. The main reason for this is that it has such high depreciation and amortisation. While companies often boast that these charges are non-cash, most such businesses will therefore require ongoing investment (that is not expensed.) In any case, it's safe to say the company has meaningful debt. Shareholders should be aware that TPI Composites's EBIT was down 64% last year. 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 future earnings, more than anything, that will determine TPI Composites'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.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. During the last three years, TPI Composites burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

To be frank both TPI Composites'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. Having said that, its ability to handle its total liabilities isn't such a worry. Overall, it seems to us that TPI Composites's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. For this reason we're pretty cautious about the stock, and we think shareholders should keep a close eye on its liquidity. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for TPI Composites that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

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.

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Simply Wall St

Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.