Sunday, 16 July 2017

Using debt ratios to analyse companies

The debt measure ratios for five companies.

Name   Debt to OPCF   Debt/FCF   Interest Cover   Debt/Total Asset
A          7.8                     22.9                 1.8                 162.0%
B           0.2                      0.2             213.9                     6.7%
C           6.5                    47.9                 2.1                   43.3%
D           2.5                      4.1                 6.8                   44.3%
E           6.4                     39.1                 2.5                   58.1%

Company A
This company's debt would take nearly 23 years to pay back.  Debt/FCF = 22.9
Its profits cover its interest payments less than twice.  Interest cover = 1.8x.
This kind of situation represents a risk of going bankrupt if profits were to deteriorate.
This would be enough to put investors off buying its shares.

Company B
This company operates a chain of fast food pizza chain.
It has very low levels of debt on its balance sheet.  Debt/Total Asset = 6.7%.
It could repay all its borrowings in less than three months based on its current free cash flow - Debt/FCF = 0.2.
It has no problems paying the interest on it.  Interest cover is 213.9x.
This is a kind of company investors might want to own shares in.

Company C
This company is in the pub business.
Pub companies are frequently financed with high levels of debt.
These companies can also tend to be quite poor at producing lots of free cash flow, as they have to keep spending money to keep their pubs in good conditions. (Heavy capital expenditure).
This makes them quite risky investments for shareholders when times get tough and profits fall.
These companies are often forced to sell their assets - pubs - to repay debts.

Company E
This is a water company (utility company).
Water companies are financed with lots of debt.  Debt/Total Asset = 58.1%.
This is not usually a problem given that they have very stable and predictable profits and cash flows.
Water is not the kind of product that tends to see demand change if the economy changes.
However, if investors are building a portfolio of quality companies with high free cash flows and ROCE, then it is unlikely that they will own shares of water companies.
This is because the returns they can earn are capped by industry regulators, which means they have very low ROCE.

Company D 
This is a hotel chain company.
Its business is conservatively financed and meets investors' target debt criteria.

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