Is Bluegreen Vacations Holding (NYSE:BVH) A Risky Investment?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 14, 2022
NYSE:BVH
Source: Shutterstock

The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a 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 note that Bluegreen Vacations Holding Corporation (NYSE:BVH) 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?

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. 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.

See our latest analysis for Bluegreen Vacations Holding

What Is Bluegreen Vacations Holding's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Bluegreen Vacations Holding had US$644.7m of debt in December 2021, down from US$745.9m, one year before. On the flip side, it has US$140.2m in cash leading to net debt of about US$504.5m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:BVH Debt to Equity History March 14th 2022

How Strong Is Bluegreen Vacations Holding's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Bluegreen Vacations Holding had liabilities of US$122.1m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$784.6m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$140.2m in cash and US$450.7m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$315.8m.

Bluegreen Vacations Holding has a market capitalization of US$654.6m, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Bluegreen Vacations Holding's net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 2.2 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 5.9 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. Pleasingly, Bluegreen Vacations Holding is growing its EBIT faster than former Australian PM Bob Hawke downs a yard glass, boasting a 193% gain in the last twelve months. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Bluegreen Vacations Holding 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.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, Bluegreen Vacations Holding recorded free cash flow of 28% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

On our analysis Bluegreen Vacations Holding's EBIT growth rate should signal that it won't have too much trouble with its debt. However, our other observations weren't so heartening. For instance it seems like it has to struggle a bit to convert EBIT to free cash flow. Considering this range of data points, we think Bluegreen Vacations Holding is in a good position to manage its debt levels. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. 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, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Bluegreen Vacations Holding (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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