- United States
- General Merchanise and Department Stores
Qurate Retail (NASDAQ:QRTE.A) Seems To Be Using A Lot Of Debt
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.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. We can see that Qurate Retail, Inc. (NASDAQ:QRTE.A) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
What Risk Does Debt Bring?
Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. 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, 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 Qurate Retail
What Is Qurate Retail's Debt?
As you can see below, Qurate Retail had US$7.62b of debt at December 2022, down from US$8.25b a year prior. However, it also had US$1.28b in cash, and so its net debt is US$6.34b.
A Look At Qurate Retail's Liabilities
According to the last reported balance sheet, Qurate Retail had liabilities of US$3.10b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$8.95b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of US$1.28b and US$1.39b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$9.38b.
The deficiency here weighs heavily on the US$374.6m 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. After all, Qurate Retail would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.
We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.
Qurate Retail shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (7.0), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 0.94 times the interest expense. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Worse, Qurate Retail's EBIT was down 71% over the last year. If earnings keep going like that over the long term, it has a snowball's chance in hell of paying off that debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Qurate Retail 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, 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 three years, Qurate Retail recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 81% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.
On the face of it, Qurate Retail'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. But on the bright side, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Taking into account all the aforementioned factors, it looks like Qurate Retail has too much debt. That sort of riskiness is ok for some, but it certainly doesn't float our boat. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Qurate Retail (including 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) .
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.
Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.
Find out whether Qurate Retail 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.View the Free Analysis
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.
Qurate Retail, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, engages in the video and online commerce industries in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Fair value with moderate growth potential.