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Here's Why init innovation in traffic systems (ETR:IXX) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

Simply Wall St

Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, '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. As with many other companies init innovation in traffic systems SE (ETR:IXX) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. Of course, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for init innovation in traffic systems

What Is init innovation in traffic systems's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that init innovation in traffic systems had debt of €35.4m at the end of June 2019, a reduction from €40.3m over a year. However, it also had €22.8m in cash, and so its net debt is €12.6m.

XTRA:IXX Historical Debt, September 11th 2019

How Healthy Is init innovation in traffic systems's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that init innovation in traffic systems had liabilities of €70.6m due within 12 months and liabilities of €42.6m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of €22.8m and €60.7m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling €29.7m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Since publicly traded init innovation in traffic systems shares are worth a total of €205.1m, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

init innovation in traffic systems has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.62. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 20.5 times the size. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. In addition to that, we're happy to report that init innovation in traffic systems has boosted its EBIT by 77%, thus reducing the spectre of future debt repayments. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if init innovation in traffic systems can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, init innovation in traffic systems recorded free cash flow of 49% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

init innovation in traffic systems's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its EBIT growth rate is also very heartening. Looking at the bigger picture, we think init innovation in traffic systems's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. After all, sensible leverage can boost returns on equity. Over time, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, so if you're interested in init innovation in traffic systems, you may well want to click here to check an interactive graph of its earnings per share history.

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.