Stock Analysis

Here's Why Dave & Buster's Entertainment (NASDAQ:PLAY) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

NasdaqGS:PLAY
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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 can see that Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. 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 Dave & Buster's Entertainment

What Is Dave & Buster's Entertainment's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at April 2023 Dave & Buster's Entertainment had debt of US$1.23b, up from US$433.1m in one year. On the flip side, it has US$91.5m in cash leading to net debt of about US$1.14b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:PLAY Debt to Equity History August 14th 2023

How Strong Is Dave & Buster's Entertainment's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Dave & Buster's Entertainment had liabilities of US$409.5m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$2.93b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$91.5m as well as receivables valued at US$41.0m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$3.20b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit casts a shadow over the US$1.74b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, Dave & Buster's Entertainment would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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's net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 2.3 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 2.9 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. We note that Dave & Buster's Entertainment grew its EBIT by 26% in the last year, and that should make it easier to pay down debt, going forward. 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 Dave & Buster's Entertainment can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last two years, Dave & Buster's Entertainment produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 67% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Dave & Buster's Entertainment's struggle to handle its total liabilities had us second guessing its balance sheet strength, but the other data-points we considered were relatively redeeming. In particular, its EBIT growth rate was re-invigorating. When we consider all the factors discussed, it seems to us that Dave & Buster's Entertainment is taking some risks with its use of debt. While that debt can boost returns, we think the company has enough leverage now. 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. Be aware that Dave & Buster's Entertainment is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those makes us a bit uncomfortable...

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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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.