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 might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. We can see that Vince Holding Corp. (NYSE:VNCE) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
How Much Debt Does Vince Holding Carry?
The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Vince Holding had US$94.6m in debt in October 2021; about the same as the year before. And it doesn't have much cash, so its net debt is about the same.
How Strong Is Vince Holding's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Vince Holding had liabilities of US$94.9m due within a year, and liabilities of US$196.3m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had US$1.61m in cash and US$32.3m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$257.3m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
The deficiency here weighs heavily on the US$92.9m 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, Vince Holding would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Vince Holding can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
Over 12 months, Vince Holding reported revenue of US$298m, which is a gain of 19%, although it did not report any earnings before interest and tax. That rate of growth is a bit slow for our taste, but it takes all types to make a world.
Importantly, Vince Holding had an earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss over the last year. Indeed, it lost US$5.3m at the EBIT level. If you consider the significant liabilities mentioned above, we are extremely wary of this investment. Of course, it may be able to improve its situation with a bit of luck and good execution. Nevertheless, we would not bet on it given that it lost US$17m in just last twelve months, and it doesn't have much by way of liquid assets. So while it's not wise to assume the company will fail, we do think it's risky. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Be aware that Vince Holding is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...
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.
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.