June 17, 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, EDP – Energias do Brasil S.A. (BVMF:ENBR3) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. 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.
View our latest analysis for EDP – Energias do Brasil
As you can see below, at the end of June 2022, EDP – Energias do Brasil had R$13.3b of debt, up from R$9.63b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of R$2.56b, its net debt is less, at about R$10.8b.
We can see from the most recent balance sheet that EDP – Energias do Brasil had liabilities of R$5.80b falling due within a year, and liabilities of R$17.3b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of R$2.56b as well as receivables valued at R$3.61b due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by R$16.9b.
Given this deficit is actually higher than the company's market capitalization of R$12.6b, we think shareholders really should watch EDP – Energias do Brasil's debt levels, like a parent watching their child ride a bike for the first time. Hypothetically, extremely heavy dilution would be required if the company were forced to pay down its liabilities by raising capital at the current share price.
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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).
EDP – Energias do Brasil has net debt worth 2.4 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 4.9 times the interest expense. While these numbers do not alarm us, it's worth noting that the cost of the company's debt is having a real impact. One way EDP – Energias do Brasil could vanquish its debt would be if it stops borrowing more but continues to grow EBIT at around 15%, as it did over the last year. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine EDP – Energias do Brasil'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.
Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. In the last three years, EDP – Energias do Brasil created free cash flow amounting to 13% of its EBIT, an uninspiring performance. That limp level of cash conversion undermines its ability to manage and pay down debt.
Mulling over EDP – Energias do Brasil's attempt at staying on top of its total liabilities, we're certainly not enthusiastic. But at least it's pretty decent at growing its EBIT; that's encouraging. We should also note that Electric Utilities industry companies like EDP – Energias do Brasil commonly do use debt without problems. Once we consider all the factors above, together, it seems to us that EDP – Energias do Brasil's debt is making it a bit risky. Some people like that sort of risk, but we're mindful of the potential pitfalls, so we'd probably prefer it carry less debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for EDP – Energias do Brasil you should know about.
If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.
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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 EDP – Energias do Brasil 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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EDP – Energias do Brasil S.A. operates in the energy sector 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 with proven track record and pays a dividend.
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.
EDP – Energias do Brasil S.A. operates in the energy sector 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 with proven track record and pays a dividend.
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