Stock Analysis

Aramark (NYSE:ARMK) Has Debt But No Earnings; Should You Worry?

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NYSE:ARMK
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Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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. As with many other companies Aramark (NYSE:ARMK) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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. 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 Aramark

What Is Aramark's Net Debt?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Aramark had US$8.13b in debt in April 2021; about the same as the year before. However, it also had US$1.40b in cash, and so its net debt is US$6.73b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:ARMK Debt to Equity History August 6th 2021

How Healthy Is Aramark's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Aramark had liabilities of US$2.40b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$9.46b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$1.40b in cash and US$1.47b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$8.99b.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of US$9.00b. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry. 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 Aramark'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.

Over 12 months, Aramark made a loss at the EBIT level, and saw its revenue drop to US$10b, which is a fall of 34%. To be frank that doesn't bode well.

Caveat Emptor

While Aramark's falling revenue is about as heartwarming as a wet blanket, arguably its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss is even less appealing. To be specific the EBIT loss came in at US$530m. Considering that alongside the liabilities mentioned above does not give us much confidence that company should be using so much debt. So we think its balance sheet is a little strained, though not beyond repair. We would feel better if it turned its trailing twelve month loss of US$564m into a profit. So we do think this stock is quite risky. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example - Aramark has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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