Is RH (NYSE:RH) A Risky Investment?
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.’ 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. As with many other companies RH (NYSE:RH) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
Why Does Debt Bring Risk?
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. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well – and to its own advantage. The first step when considering a company’s debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.
View our latest analysis for RH
What Is RH’s Net Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at January 2023 RH had debt of US$2.49b, up from US$2.24b in one year. However, it does have US$1.51b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$985.2m.
How Healthy Is RH’s Balance Sheet?
According to the last reported balance sheet, RH had liabilities of US$886.0m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$3.64b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$1.51b as well as receivables valued at US$95.8m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$2.92b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
RH has a market capitalization of US$5.73b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.
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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 1.2 and interest cover of 6.5 times, it seems to us that RH is probably using debt in a pretty reasonable way. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. The modesty of its debt load may become crucial for RH if management cannot prevent a repeat of the 22% cut to EBIT over the last year. 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 it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine RH’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.
Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don’t cut it. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. During the last three years, RH produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 50% 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.
RH’s struggle to grow its EBIT had us second guessing its balance sheet strength, but the other data-points we considered were relatively redeeming. For example, its net debt to EBITDA is relatively strong. When we consider all the factors discussed, it seems to us that RH is taking some risks with its use of debt. So while that leverage does boost returns on equity, we wouldn’t really want to see it increase from here. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we’ve spotted with RH (including 1 which is a bit unpleasant) .
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.
Valuation is complex, but we’re helping make it simple.
Find out whether RH 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.
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.