Here's Why Kogan.com (ASX:KGN) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

·4 min read

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.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. Importantly, Kogan.com Ltd (ASX:KGN) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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 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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Kogan.com

What Is Kogan.com's Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of June 2021, Kogan.com had AU$78.7m of debt, up from none a year ago. Click the image for more detail. But on the other hand it also has AU$91.7m in cash, leading to a AU$13.0m net cash position.

debt-equity-history-analysis
debt-equity-history-analysis

A Look At Kogan.com's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Kogan.com had liabilities of AU$163.1m due within 12 months and liabilities of AU$98.2m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of AU$91.7m as well as receivables valued at AU$7.50m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by AU$162.1m.

Of course, Kogan.com has a market capitalization of AU$1.15b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward. While it does have liabilities worth noting, Kogan.com also has more cash than debt, so we're pretty confident it can manage its debt safely.

The modesty of its debt load may become crucial for Kogan.com if management cannot prevent a repeat of the 37% cut to EBIT over the last year. When it comes to paying off debt, falling earnings are no more useful than sugary sodas are for your health. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Kogan.com can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. Kogan.com may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. During the last three years, Kogan.com burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Summing up

Although Kogan.com's balance sheet isn't particularly strong, due to the total liabilities, it is clearly positive to see that it has net cash of AU$13.0m. So while Kogan.com does not have a great balance sheet, it's certainly not too bad. 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 Kogan.com you should be aware of, and 2 of them are a bit unpleasant.

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.

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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