Stock Analysis

Here's Why ONE Group Hospitality (NASDAQ:STKS) Is Weighed Down By Its Debt Load

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NasdaqCM:STKS
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Warren Buffett famously said, '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 note that The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc. (NASDAQ:STKS) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. 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, 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.

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How Much Debt Does ONE Group Hospitality Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of March 2020 ONE Group Hospitality had US$45.8m of debt, an increase on US$9.57m, over one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$8.16m, its net debt is less, at about US$37.7m.

NasdaqCM:STKS Historical Debt June 30th 2020
NasdaqCM:STKS Historical Debt June 30th 2020

How Healthy Is ONE Group Hospitality's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that ONE Group Hospitality had liabilities of US$23.3m due within a year, and liabilities of US$143.5m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had US$8.16m in cash and US$5.57m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$153.1m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the US$45.8m 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'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, ONE Group Hospitality would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

While we wouldn't worry about ONE Group Hospitality's net debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.2, we think its super-low interest cover of 1.7 times is a sign of high leverage. It seems that the business incurs large depreciation and amortisation charges, so maybe its debt load is heavier than it would first appear, since EBITDA is arguably a generous measure of earnings. It seems clear that the cost of borrowing money is negatively impacting returns for shareholders, of late. Worse, ONE Group Hospitality's EBIT was down 27% over the last year. If earnings continue to follow that trajectory, paying off that debt load will be harder than convincing us to run a marathon in the rain. 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 ONE Group Hospitality'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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, ONE Group Hospitality recorded free cash flow of 34% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

On the face of it, ONE Group Hospitality's EBIT growth rate left us tentative about the stock, and its level of total liabilities was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. Having said that, its ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow isn't such a worry. Taking into account all the aforementioned factors, it looks like ONE Group Hospitality has too much debt. While some investors love that sort of risky play, it's certainly not our cup of tea. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 4 warning signs for ONE Group Hospitality (2 are a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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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What are the risks and opportunities for ONE Group Hospitality?

The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc., a hospitality company, develops, owns, operates, manages, and licenses restaurants and lounges worldwide.

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Rewards

  • Price-To-Earnings ratio (17x) is below the Hospitality industry average (19.2x)

  • Earnings are forecast to grow 44.86% per year

Risks

  • High level of non-cash earnings

  • Profit margins (4.6%) are lower than last year (8.9%)

  • Volatile share price over the past 3 months

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