Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That EnerSys (NYSE:ENS) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well

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NYSE:ENS
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Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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 EnerSys (NYSE:ENS) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. 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. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

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What Is EnerSys's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of January 2022 EnerSys had US$1.22b of debt, an increase on US$1.09b, over one year. However, it also had US$397.1m in cash, and so its net debt is US$827.9m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:ENS Debt to Equity History March 3rd 2022

How Strong Is EnerSys' Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that EnerSys had liabilities of US$622.1m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$1.46b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$397.1m in cash and US$636.0m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$1.05b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since EnerSys has a market capitalization of US$2.95b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.

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

EnerSys's net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 2.4 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 6.5 times last year. While these numbers do not alarm us, it's worth noting that the cost of the company's debt is having a real impact. EnerSys grew its EBIT by 3.1% in the last year. Whilst that hardly knocks our socks off it is a positive when it comes to debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine EnerSys'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 it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, EnerSys recorded free cash flow of 44% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

EnerSys's interest cover was a real positive on this analysis, as was its EBIT growth rate. Having said that, its net debt to EBITDA somewhat sensitizes us to potential future risks to the balance sheet. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about EnerSys's use of debt. While we appreciate debt can enhance returns on equity, we'd suggest that shareholders keep close watch on its debt levels, lest they increase. 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. Be aware that EnerSys is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those doesn't sit too well with us...

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.

What are the risks and opportunities for EnerSys?

EnerSys provides various stored energy solutions for industrial applications worldwide.

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Rewards

  • Trading at 62.2% below our estimate of its fair value

  • Earnings are forecast to grow 37.67% per year

Risks

  • Debt is not well covered by operating cash flow

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