Is Samsonite International (HKG:1910) A Risky Investment?
Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that ‘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 can see that Samsonite International S.A. (HKG:1910) does use debt in its business. 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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well – and to its own advantage. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
What Is Samsonite International’s Debt?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Samsonite International had US$1.82b of debt in September 2023, down from US$2.19b, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$603.4m, its net debt is less, at about US$1.22b.
How Healthy Is Samsonite International’s Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Samsonite International had liabilities of US$1.13b due within a year, and liabilities of US$2.37b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had US$603.4m in cash and US$343.7m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$2.55b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of US$4.16b. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry.
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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.
Samsonite International’s net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 1.8 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 5.3 times last year. While that doesn’t worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. Importantly, Samsonite International grew its EBIT by 53% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its 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 Samsonite International 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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don’t cut it. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. During the last two years, Samsonite International produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 66% of its EBIT, about what we’d expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.
Happily, Samsonite International’s impressive EBIT growth rate implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its level of total liabilities. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Samsonite International can handle its debt fairly comfortably. Of course, while this leverage can enhance returns on equity, it does bring more risk, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this one. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. We’ve identified 1 warning sign with Samsonite International , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
If, after all that, you’re more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.
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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.