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Is Funding Circle Holdings (LON:FCH) Using Debt In A Risky Way?

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 might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. As with many other companies Funding Circle Holdings plc (LON:FCH) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. 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 Funding Circle Holdings

What Is Funding Circle Holdings's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at June 2019 Funding Circle Holdings had debt of UK£146.8m, up from none in one year. But it also has UK£449.9m in cash to offset that, meaning it has UK£303.1m net cash.

LSE:FCH Historical Debt, August 21st 2019

How Strong Is Funding Circle Holdings's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Funding Circle Holdings had liabilities of UK£180.2m due within 12 months and liabilities of UK£19.3m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of UK£449.9m and UK£14.9m worth of receivables due within a year. So it actually has UK£265.3m more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This surplus liquidity suggests that Funding Circle Holdings's balance sheet could take a hit just as well as Homer Simpson's head can take a punch. With this in mind one could posit that its balance sheet is as strong as beautiful a rare rhino. Succinctly put, Funding Circle Holdings boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load! 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 Funding Circle Holdings'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.

In the last year Funding Circle Holdings managed to grow its revenue by 37%, to UK£159m. Shareholders probably have their fingers crossed that it can grow its way to profits.

So How Risky Is Funding Circle Holdings?

We have no doubt that loss making companies are, in general, riskier than profitable ones. And we do note that Funding Circle Holdings had negative earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), over the last year. Indeed, in that time it burnt through UK£47m of cash and made a loss of UK£53m. While this does make the company a bit risky, it's important to remember it has net cash of UK£450m. That means it could keep spending at its current rate for more than five years. With very solid revenue growth in the last year, Funding Circle Holdings may be on a path to profitability. By investing before those profits, shareholders take on more risk in the hope of bigger rewards. For riskier companies like Funding Circle Holdings I always like to keep an eye on whether insiders are buying or selling. So click here if you want to find out for yourself.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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.