February 21, 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 Servizi Italia S.p.A. (BIT:SRI) does have debt on its balance sheet. 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. 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 step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.
View our latest analysis for Servizi Italia
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Servizi Italia had €105.0m of debt in June 2022, down from €118.4m, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of €3.86m, its net debt is less, at about €101.2m.
According to the last reported balance sheet, Servizi Italia had liabilities of €193.8m due within 12 months, and liabilities of €65.3m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €3.86m as well as receivables valued at €89.8m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €165.5m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This deficit casts a shadow over the €29.7m company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. At the end of the day, Servizi Italia would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.
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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
While Servizi Italia has a quite reasonable net debt to EBITDA multiple of 1.7, its interest cover seems weak, at 1.1. The main reason for this is that it has such high depreciation and amortisation. While companies often boast that these charges are non-cash, most such businesses will therefore require ongoing investment (that is not expensed.) Either way there's no doubt the stock is using meaningful leverage. Shareholders should be aware that Servizi Italia's EBIT was down 46% last year. If that decline continues then paying off debt will be harder than selling foie gras at a vegan convention. 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 Servizi Italia 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 company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the last three years, Servizi Italia reported free cash flow worth 6.6% of its EBIT, which is really quite low. For us, cash conversion that low sparks a little paranoia about is ability to extinguish debt.
On the face of it, Servizi Italia's EBIT growth rate left us tentative about the stock, and its level of total liabilities was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But at least its net debt to EBITDA is not so bad. It's also worth noting that Servizi Italia is in the Healthcare industry, which is often considered to be quite defensive. After considering the datapoints discussed, we think Servizi Italia has too much debt. While some investors love that sort of risky play, it's certainly not our cup of tea. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for Servizi Italia you should be aware of, and 1 of them doesn't sit too well with us.
When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.
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.
Find out whether Servizi Italia 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.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.
Servizi Italia S.p.A. provides integrated wash-hire and sterilization services for textiles and surgical instruments to social/welfare, and public and private hospital facilities.
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 with moderate growth potential.
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.
Servizi Italia S.p.A. provides integrated wash-hire and sterilization services for textiles and surgical instruments to social/welfare, and public and private hospital facilities.
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 with moderate growth potential.
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.

source

About Author

Leave a Reply