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 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 Everi Holdings Inc. (NYSE:EVRI) 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 is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, 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. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.
How Much Debt Does Everi Holdings Carry?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of March 2021 Everi Holdings had US$1.13b of debt, an increase on US$1.04b, over one year. However, it also had US$340.1m in cash, and so its net debt is US$790.0m.
How Healthy Is Everi Holdings' Balance Sheet?
We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Everi Holdings had liabilities of US$356.6m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$1.17b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$340.1m as well as receivables valued at US$126.1m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$1.06b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This deficit isn't so bad because Everi Holdings is worth US$1.87b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.
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.
While we wouldn't worry about Everi Holdings's net debt to EBITDA ratio of 4.5, we think its super-low interest cover of 0.41 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. So shareholders should probably be aware that interest expenses appear to have really impacted the business lately. Worse, Everi Holdings's EBIT was down 64% 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 Everi Holdings'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. Over the last three years, Everi Holdings recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 84% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.
On the face of it, Everi Holdings's interest cover left us tentative about the stock, and its EBIT growth rate was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But at least it's pretty decent at converting EBIT to free cash flow; that's encouraging. Looking at the balance sheet and taking into account all these factors, we do believe that debt is making Everi Holdings stock a bit risky. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we'd generally feel more comfortable with less leverage. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Everi Holdings you should be aware of.
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.
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