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Here's Why Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme (EPA:CO) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

Simply Wall St

Warren Buffett famously said, '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. We can see that Casino, Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme (EPA:CO) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme

How Much Debt Does Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme had €9.23b of debt in June 2019, down from €10.1b, one year before. However, it also had €3.20b in cash, and so its net debt is €6.03b.

ENXTPA:CO Historical Debt, October 18th 2019

A Look At Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme had liabilities of €13.0b due within 12 months and liabilities of €12.0b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of €3.20b and €1.03b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total €20.8b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit casts a shadow over the €4.65b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. At the end of the day, Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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

Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme's debt is 3.9 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 3.1 times over. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. Another concern for investors might be that Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme's EBIT fell 17% in the last year. If that's the way things keep going handling the debt load will be like delivering hot coffees on a pogo stick. 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 Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme'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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 75% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

To be frank both Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme's EBIT growth rate and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But on the bright side, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. We're quite clear that we consider Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme to be really rather risky, as a result of its balance sheet health. For this reason we're pretty cautious about the stock, and we think shareholders should keep a close eye on its liquidity. While Casino Guichard-Perrachon Société Anonyme didn't make a statutory profit in the last year, its positive EBIT suggests that profitability might not be far away.Click here to see if its earnings are heading in the right direction, over the medium term.

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.

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