July 18, 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 Blue Apron Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:APRN) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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 Blue Apron Holdings
As you can see below, Blue Apron Holdings had US$27.2m of debt at June 2022, down from US$30.6m a year prior. But on the other hand it also has US$54.0m in cash, leading to a US$26.8m net cash position.
The latest balance sheet data shows that Blue Apron Holdings had liabilities of US$89.5m due within a year, and liabilities of US$74.2m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$54.0m and US$10.3m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$99.4m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Blue Apron Holdings has a market capitalization of US$233.5m, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution. Despite its noteworthy liabilities, Blue Apron Holdings boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load! There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Blue Apron Holdings's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.
In the last year Blue Apron Holdings had a loss before interest and tax, and actually shrunk its revenue by 4.7%, to US$459m. We would much prefer see growth.
Statistically speaking companies that lose money are riskier than those that make money. And in the last year Blue Apron Holdings had an earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss, truth be told. Indeed, in that time it burnt through US$90m of cash and made a loss of US$116m. Given it only has net cash of US$26.8m, the company may need to raise more capital if it doesn't reach break-even soon. Summing up, we're a little skeptical of this one, as it seems fairly risky in the absence of free cashflow. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for Blue Apron Holdings (of which 1 can't be ignored!) you should know about.
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.

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Blue Apron Holdings, Inc. operates a direct-to-consumer platform that delivers original recipes with fresh and seasonal ingredients.
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.
Adequate balance sheet and fair value.
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.
Blue Apron Holdings, Inc. operates a direct-to-consumer platform that delivers original recipes with fresh and seasonal ingredients.
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.
Adequate balance sheet and fair value.
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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