February 22, 2024

David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the 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, Coupa Software Incorporated (NASDAQ:COUP) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.
See our latest analysis for Coupa Software
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of April 2022 Coupa Software had US$2.16b of debt, an increase on US$1.53b, over one year. On the flip side, it has US$786.2m in cash leading to net debt of about US$1.37b.
According to the last reported balance sheet, Coupa Software had liabilities of US$571.3m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$2.25b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$786.2m as well as receivables valued at US$186.6m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$1.85b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Coupa Software has a market capitalization of US$5.32b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Coupa Software'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.
Over 12 months, Coupa Software reported revenue of US$755m, which is a gain of 28%, although it did not report any earnings before interest and tax. Shareholders probably have their fingers crossed that it can grow its way to profits.
Even though Coupa Software managed to grow its top line quite deftly, the cold hard truth is that it is losing money on the EBIT line. To be specific the EBIT loss came in at US$241m. Considering that alongside the liabilities mentioned above does not give us much confidence that company should be using so much debt. Quite frankly we think the balance sheet is far from match-fit, although it could be improved with time. We would feel better if it turned its trailing twelve month loss of US$360m into a profit. So we do think this stock is quite risky. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Coupa Software you should know about.
At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.
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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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.
Coupa Software Incorporated provides cloud-based business spend management platform that connects its customers with suppliers worldwide.
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.
Fair value with mediocre balance sheet.
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.
Coupa Software Incorporated provides cloud-based business spend management platform that connects its customers with suppliers worldwide.
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.
Fair value with mediocre balance sheet.
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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