Stock Analysis

Does Dave & Buster's Entertainment (NASDAQ:PLAY) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

NasdaqGS:PLAY
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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.' 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 Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY) does use debt in its business. 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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. 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 examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

Check out the opportunities and risks within the US Hospitality industry.

How Much Debt Does Dave & Buster's Entertainment Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of July 2022 Dave & Buster's Entertainment had US$1.23b of debt, an increase on US$546.5m, over one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$100.4m, its net debt is less, at about US$1.13b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:PLAY Debt to Equity History November 2nd 2022

A Look At Dave & Buster's Entertainment's Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Dave & Buster's Entertainment had liabilities of US$407.6m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$2.89b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$100.4m in cash and US$34.7m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$3.16b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This deficit casts a shadow over the US$1.84b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, Dave & Buster's Entertainment 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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Dave & Buster's Entertainment has a debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.0 and its EBIT covered its interest expense 4.3 times. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. The silver lining is that Dave & Buster's Entertainment grew its EBIT by 6,848% last year, which nourishing like the idealism of youth. If that earnings trend continues it will make its debt load much more manageable in the future. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Dave & Buster's Entertainment 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.

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. Happily for any shareholders, Dave & Buster's Entertainment actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last two years. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

We feel some trepidation about Dave & Buster's Entertainment's difficulty level of total liabilities, but we've got positives to focus on, too. To wit both its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and EBIT growth rate were encouraging signs. We think that Dave & Buster's Entertainment's debt does make it a bit risky, after considering the aforementioned data points together. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Dave & Buster's Entertainment .

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Dave & Buster's Entertainment is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.