Stock Analysis

We Think Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (NYSE:RBA) Can Stay On Top Of Its Debt

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NYSE:RBA
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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.' 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 note that Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Incorporated (NYSE:RBA) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers

What Is Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers's Debt?

As you can see below, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers had US$653.0m of debt, at June 2022, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$367.3m, its net debt is less, at about US$285.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:RBA Debt to Equity History October 5th 2022

A Look At Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers' Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers had liabilities of US$792.8m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$857.1m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$367.3m and US$304.0m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$978.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Given Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers has a market capitalization of US$7.25b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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.

Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 0.81 and interest cover of 5.1 times, it seems to us that Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers 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 Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers's EBIT was pretty flat over the last year. Ideally it can diminish its debt load by kick-starting earnings growth. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers'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 we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 100% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.

Our View

The good news is that Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers's demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its net debt to EBITDA is also very heartening. When we consider the range of factors above, it looks like Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers is pretty sensible with its use of debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. 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. For example - Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers 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.

What are the risks and opportunities for Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers?

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Incorporated, an asset management and disposition company, sells industrial equipment and other durable assets through its unreserved auctions, online marketplaces, listing services, and private brokerage services.

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Rewards

  • Trading at 2% below our estimate of its fair value

  • Earnings are forecast to grow 15.61% per year

  • Earnings grew by 79.3% over the past year

Risks

  • Large one-off items impacting financial results

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About NYSE:RBA

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Incorporated, an asset management and disposition company, sells industrial equipment and other durable assets through its unreserved auctions, online marketplaces, listing services, and private brokerage services.

The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.

Analysis AreaScore (0-6)
Valuation4
Future Growth2
Past Performance5
Financial Health6
Dividends5

Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.

Flawless balance sheet with solid track record and pays a dividend.