Sugar

Is Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings (TSE:2109) Using Too Much Debt?

The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says ‘The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.’ When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. Importantly, Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings Co., Ltd. (TSE:2109) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of ‘creative destruction’ where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well – and to its own advantage. When we think about a company’s use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings

What Is Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings’s Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings had JP¥44.3b of debt in December 2023, down from JP¥53.2b, one year before. On the flip side, it has JP¥23.5b in cash leading to net debt of about JP¥20.8b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSE:2109 Debt to Equity History April 2nd 2024

How Healthy Is Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings’ Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings had liabilities of JP¥35.9b due within a year, and liabilities of JP¥44.9b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of JP¥23.5b and JP¥18.0b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total JP¥39.2b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit isn’t so bad because Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings is worth JP¥98.4b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

We’d say that Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings’s moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 2.3), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its commanding EBIT of 1k times its interest expense, implies the debt load is as light as a peacock feather. Notably, Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings’s EBIT launched higher than Elon Musk, gaining a whopping 108% on last year. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can’t view debt in total isolation; since Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings 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.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last three years, Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.

Our View

Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings’s conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered were considerably better. In particular, we are dazzled with its interest cover. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings’s use of debt. While debt does have its upside in higher potential returns, we think shareholders should definitely consider how debt levels might make the stock more risky. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For instance, we’ve identified 1 warning sign for Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings that you should be aware of.

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.

Valuation is complex, but we’re helping make it simple.

Find out whether Mitsui DM Sugar Holdings 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.

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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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