Here’s Why Tosoh (TSE:4042) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

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Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, ‘The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about… and every practical investor I know worries about.’ It’s only natural to consider a company’s balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. Importantly, Tosoh Corporation (TSE:4042) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. 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 think about a company’s use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Tosoh

What Is Tosoh’s Net Debt?

As you can see below, Tosoh had JP¥186.9b of debt, at December 2023, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, it does have JP¥136.1b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about JP¥50.8b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSE:4042 Debt to Equity History April 15th 2024

How Strong Is Tosoh’s Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Tosoh had liabilities of JP¥368.6b due within 12 months and liabilities of JP¥65.6b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of JP¥136.1b and JP¥297.1b worth of receivables due within a year. So its total liabilities are just about perfectly matched by its shorter-term, liquid assets.

This state of affairs indicates that Tosoh’s balance sheet looks quite solid, as its total liabilities are just about equal to its liquid assets. So it’s very unlikely that the JP¥693.4b company is short on cash, but still worth keeping an eye on the balance sheet.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Tosoh has a low debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.42. And remarkably, despite having net debt, it actually received more in interest over the last twelve months than it had to pay. So it’s fair to say it can handle debt like a hotshot teppanyaki chef handles cooking. In fact Tosoh’s saving grace is its low debt levels, because its EBIT has tanked 22% in the last twelve months. When a company sees its earnings tank, it can sometimes find its relationships with its lenders turn sour. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Tosoh can strengthen its balance sheet over time. 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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don’t cut it. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, Tosoh barely recorded positive free cash flow, in total. Some might say that’s a concern, when it comes considering how easily it would be for it to down debt.

Our View

We feel some trepidation about Tosoh’s difficulty EBIT growth rate, but we’ve got positives to focus on, too. For example, its interest cover and net debt to EBITDA give us some confidence in its ability to manage its debt. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Tosoh is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since leverage can boost returns on equity, but it is something to be aware of. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. For example – Tosoh has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don’t even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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

Find out whether Tosoh 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.

View the Free Analysis

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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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2024-04-16 00:08:26

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