Warren Buffett famously said, ‘Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.’ 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. We note that NIBE Industrier AB (publ) (STO:NIBE B) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
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What Is NIBE Industrier’s Net Debt?
The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that NIBE Industrier had kr11.1b in debt in September 2022; about the same as the year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of kr3.91b, its net debt is less, at about kr7.15b.
How Healthy Is NIBE Industrier’s Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that NIBE Industrier had liabilities of kr13.6b due within a year, and liabilities of kr12.1b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of kr3.91b and kr7.41b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total kr14.4b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
Given NIBE Industrier has a humongous market capitalization of kr228.0b, it’s hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. Having said that, it’s clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse.
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.
NIBE Industrier’s net debt is only 1.2 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 37.5 times the size. So we’re pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. Also good is that NIBE Industrier grew its EBIT at 15% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage debt. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine NIBE Industrier’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, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, NIBE Industrier recorded free cash flow worth 55% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.
NIBE Industrier’s interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14’s goalkeeper. And its EBIT growth rate is good too. Taking all this data into account, it seems to us that NIBE Industrier takes a pretty sensible approach to debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. 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. For example – NIBE Industrier has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
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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Find out whether NIBE Industrier 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.
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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.
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