Is Bloomin' Brands (NASDAQ:BLMN) Using Too Much Debt?

Published
June 14, 2022
NasdaqGS:BLMN
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 Bloomin' Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:BLMN) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Bloomin' Brands

What Is Bloomin' Brands's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Bloomin' Brands had debt of US$720.4m at the end of March 2022, a reduction from US$1.02b over a year. However, it does have US$97.8m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$622.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:BLMN Debt to Equity History June 14th 2022

A Look At Bloomin' Brands' Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that Bloomin' Brands had liabilities of US$935.6m due within a year, and liabilities of US$1.97b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$97.8m and US$46.0m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling US$2.77b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This deficit casts a shadow over the US$1.56b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, Bloomin' Brands 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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 1.2 and interest cover of 6.1 times, it seems to us that Bloomin' Brands is probably using debt in a pretty reasonable way. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. Better yet, Bloomin' Brands grew its EBIT by 1,548% last year, which is an impressive improvement. That boost will make it even easier to pay down debt going forward. 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 Bloomin' Brands's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last three years, Bloomin' Brands actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

Bloomin' Brands's level of total liabilities was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered were considerably better. There's no doubt that its ability to to convert EBIT to free cash flow is pretty flash. Looking at all this data makes us feel a little cautious about Bloomin' Brands's debt levels. While we appreciate debt can enhance returns on equity, we'd suggest that shareholders keep close watch on its debt levels, lest they increase. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example - Bloomin' Brands has 3 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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