March 1, 2024

Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' 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. Importantly, Fleury S.A. (BVMF:FLRY3) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. 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 Fleury
As you can see below, at the end of June 2022, Fleury had R$2.70b of debt, up from R$1.64b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have R$720.4m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about R$1.98b.
The latest balance sheet data shows that Fleury had liabilities of R$1.33b due within a year, and liabilities of R$3.57b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had R$720.4m in cash and R$995.5m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling R$3.18b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
This deficit is considerable relative to its market capitalization of R$5.29b, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on Fleury's use of debt. 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.
Fleury has net debt worth 2.1 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 3.2 times the interest expense. While that doesn't worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. Unfortunately, Fleury's EBIT flopped 11% over the last four quarters. If earnings continue to decline at that rate then handling the debt will be more difficult than taking three children under 5 to a fancy pants restaurant. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Fleury 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 it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Fleury generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 87% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.
Fleury's EBIT growth rate and interest cover definitely weigh on it, in our esteem. But the good news is it seems to be able to convert EBIT to free cash flow with ease. We should also note that Healthcare industry companies like Fleury commonly do use debt without problems. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Fleury is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since leverage can boost returns on equity, but it is something to be aware of. 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. Be aware that Fleury is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about…
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.
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.

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Fleury S.A., together with its subsidiaries, provides medical services in the diagnostic, treatment, clinical analysis, health management, medical care, orthopedics, and ophthalmology areas in Brazil.
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.
Good value average dividend payer.
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.
Fleury S.A., together with its subsidiaries, provides medical services in the diagnostic, treatment, clinical analysis, health management, medical care, orthopedics, and ophthalmology areas in Brazil.
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.
Good value average dividend payer.
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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