Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk. 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. As with many other companies GO internet S.p.A. (BIT:GO) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. 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.
What Is GO internet's Net Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that GO internet had debt of €4.32m at the end of June 2019, a reduction from €5.49m over a year. On the flip side, it has €1.87m in cash leading to net debt of about €2.45m.
How Strong Is GO internet's Balance Sheet?
Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that GO internet had liabilities of €9.52m due within 12 months and liabilities of €5.56m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of €1.87m as well as receivables valued at €3.88m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by €9.34m.
While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since GO internet has a market capitalization of €23.3m, 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 you can't view debt in total isolation; since GO internet will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.
Over 12 months, GO internet saw its revenue hold pretty steady, and it did not report positive earnings before interest and tax. While that's not too bad, we'd prefer see growth.
Importantly, GO internet had negative earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), over the last year. Indeed, it lost €1.0m at the EBIT level. 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. Another cause for caution is that is bled €4.2m in negative free cash flow over the last twelve months. So in short it's a really risky stock. When we look at a riskier company, we like to check how their profits (or losses) are trending over time. Today, we're providing readers this interactive graph showing how GO internet's profit, revenue, and operating cashflow have changed over the last few years.
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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