Is Match Group (NASDAQ:MTCH) A Risky Investment?

Simply Wall St

David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the 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. As with many other companies Match Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:MTCH) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. 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 Match Group

How Much Debt Does Match Group Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of June 2019, Match Group had US$1.60b of debt, up from US$1.25b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have US$266.4m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$1.34b.

NasdaqGS:MTCH Historical Debt, August 23rd 2019

How Healthy Is Match Group's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Match Group had liabilities of US$383.4m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$1.69b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$266.4m as well as receivables valued at US$160.6m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$1.65b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Of course, Match Group has a titanic market capitalization of US$24.3b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Match Group's net debt of 2.2 times EBITDA suggests graceful use of debt. And the alluring interest cover (EBIT of 7.4 times interest expense) certainly does not do anything to dispel this impression. Also relevant is that Match Group has grown its EBIT by a very respectable 21% in the last year, thus enhancing its ability to pay down debt. 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 Match Group'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.

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. During the last three years, Match Group generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 85% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Our View

Match Group's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And the good news does not stop there, as its EBIT growth rate also supports that impression! Zooming out, Match Group seems to use debt quite reasonably; and that gets the nod from us. While debt does bring risk, when used wisely it can also bring a higher return on equity. We'd be motivated to research the stock further if we found out that Match Group insiders have bought shares recently. If you would too, then you're in luck, since today we're sharing our list of reported insider transactions for free.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.