Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Dave & Buster's Entertainment (NASDAQ:PLAY) Is Using Debt Extensively

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 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 note that Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. 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. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

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

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of October 2022 Dave & Buster's Entertainment had US$1.23b of debt, an increase on US$491.1m, over one year. However, it does have US$108.2m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$1.12b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:PLAY Debt to Equity History February 6th 2023

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

According to the last reported balance sheet, Dave & Buster's Entertainment had liabilities of US$406.2m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$2.92b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$108.2m in cash and US$45.9m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$3.17b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Given this deficit is actually higher than the company's market capitalization of US$2.16b, we think shareholders really should watch Dave & Buster's Entertainment's debt levels, like a parent watching their child ride a bike for the first time. Hypothetically, extremely heavy dilution would be required if the company were forced to pay down its liabilities by raising capital at the current share price.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Dave & Buster's Entertainment has a debt to EBITDA ratio of 2.7 and its EBIT covered its interest expense 3.8 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 207% last year, which nourishing like the idealism of youth. If it can keep walking that path it will be in a position to shed its debt with relative ease. 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 Dave & Buster's Entertainment'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.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last two years, Dave & Buster's Entertainment recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 87% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.

Our View

While Dave & Buster's Entertainment's level of total liabilities has us nervous. To wit both its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and EBIT growth rate were encouraging signs. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Dave & Buster's Entertainment is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Dave & Buster's Entertainment 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.

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.