July 19, 2024

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about… and every practical investor I know worries about.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt – which is usually involved in bankruptcies – is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. We note that Apex Frozen Foods Limited (NSE:APEX) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
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 usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.
Check out our latest analysis for Apex Frozen Foods
As you can see below, Apex Frozen Foods had ₹1.67b of debt, at March 2022, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, it also had ₹344.1m in cash, and so its net debt is ₹1.32b.
According to the last reported balance sheet, Apex Frozen Foods had liabilities of ₹1.75b due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₹291.2m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of ₹344.1m as well as receivables valued at ₹1.65b due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling ₹47.3m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
This state of affairs indicates that Apex Frozen Foods' balance sheet looks quite solid, as its total liabilities are just about equal to its liquid assets. So it's very unlikely that the ₹8.93b company is short on cash, but still worth keeping an eye on the balance sheet.
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.
While Apex Frozen Foods's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.5 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 4.3 times last year does give us pause. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. One way Apex Frozen Foods could vanquish its debt would be if it stops borrowing more but continues to grow EBIT at around 17%, as it did over the last year. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is Apex Frozen Foods's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.
Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. In the last three years, Apex Frozen Foods's free cash flow amounted to 25% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.
Apex Frozen Foods's EBIT growth rate was a real positive on this analysis, as was its level of total liabilities. On the other hand, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow makes us a little less comfortable about its debt. Considering this range of data points, we think Apex Frozen Foods is in a good position to manage its debt levels. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. We've identified 2 warning signs with Apex Frozen Foods (at least 1 which can't be ignored) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.
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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.
Find out whether Apex Frozen Foods 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.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
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Apex Frozen Foods Limited engages in the farming, processing, production, and sale of shrimps.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
Excellent balance sheet with proven track record.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.
Apex Frozen Foods Limited engages in the farming, processing, production, and sale of shrimps.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
Excellent balance sheet with proven track record.
Simply Wall Street Pty Ltd (ACN 600 056 611), is a Corporate Authorised Representative (Authorised Representative Number: 467183) of Sanlam Private Wealth Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 337927). Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should not rely on any advice and/or information contained in this website and before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice. Please read our Financial Services Guide before deciding whether to obtain financial services from us.

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