Cet article est intéressant car contrairement à Atos, il parle à la fois en dette nette et en dette « brute », sachant qu’au risque de me répéter, on ne paie pas les intérêts sur la dette nette, mais sur LA DETTE TOTALE.
Is Atos Using Too Much Debt?
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.’ 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, Atos SE makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
When Is Debt Dangerous?
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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
What Is Atos’s Debt?
As you can see below, at the end of December 2022, Atos had €4.86b of debt, up from €4.60b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it also had €3.33b in cash, and so its net debt is €1.53b.
How Strong Is Atos’ Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Atos had liabilities of €8.14b due within a year, and liabilities of €4.45b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of €3.33b and €3.30b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total €5.97b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
The deficiency here weighs heavily on the €1.28b company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. At the end of the day, Atos would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.
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.
Atos has net debt worth 2.4 times EBITDA, which isn’t too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 4.4 times the interest expense. It seems that the business incurs large depreciation and amortisation charges, so maybe its debt load is heavier than it would first appear, since EBITDA is arguably a generous measure of earnings. Notably, Atos made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, but improved that to positive EBIT of €224m in the last twelve months. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Atos 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.
Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it’s worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. During the last year, Atos produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 79% 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.
Mulling over Atos’s attempt at staying on top of its total liabilities, we’re certainly not enthusiastic. But on the bright side, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Once we consider all the factors above, together, it seems to us that Atos’s debt is making it a bit risky. Some people like that sort of risk, but we’re mindful of the potential pitfalls, so we’d probably prefer it carry less debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Case in point: We’ve spotted 1 warning sign for Atos you should be aware of.
POUR ETRE AUTOMATIQUEMENT AVERTI A CHAQUE NOUVEL ARTICLE PUBLIÉ SUR LE BLOG, inscrivez vous à la NEWSLETTER, y compris pour les membres du forum. L’ESPACE INSCRIPTION est sur page d’accueil en haut de la colonne de droite, juste sous le price-ticker de l’action (sur la version PC du blog). Vous pourrez vous désinscrire à tout moment.