A Critical Look at Debt on the Balance-Sheet

Borrowed money needs to be paid back.

Pray where is a company going to pay it back from?

From current reserves and /or earnings, of course.

Unless you do a Suzlon and restructure your 2 billion dollar debt.

When I hear the word “restructure”, I feel like puking.

By the way, one can even do a “Mallya”, and expect the government to pay off chunks of one’s almost 1.5 billion dollar debt.

By now, I’m really throwing up.

I mean, first, some people borrow. Then comes a spending frenzy. Then these people don’t want to pay back what they borrowed. Oh, sorry, some don’t even want to pay the interest back, let alone the principal.

Frankly, I don’t wish to invest in companies run by people who delay paying back their debt through maneuvering and manipulation.

I detest manipulation. Prefer it straight-forward.

You guessed it – I’m a debt-averse human-being. What pleases me most in a company is a debt-free balance-sheet. It is challenging to find debt-free companies that are able to grow freely and fast, and when one runs into such a company, it’s like a home-run. After that one waits for the right price, but that’s another story.

Most companies borrow. They wish to grow, and funds are not there, while opportunity is.

Fine. Borrow.

Then, show me that you want to pay back. On time. ( = integrity ).

Show me that you haven’t lost your marbles while borrowing, and have borrowed an amount which by no means risks the existence of your company. ( = balance ).

Furthermore, show me that you are creating value with the borrowed amount. ( = shareholder-friendliness ).

Show me, that after payment of interest on borrowings, you can still generate a reasonable earning per share. ( = diligence ).

That would make me want to invest in your company, despite your debt.

Oh, one more thing, I would only stay invested long-term in your company, if I see you decreasing your debt-burden year upon year. ( = like-mindedness, i.e. debt-aversion ).

Also, if any new debt taken on doesn’t fit the above criteria, I would look to exit. ( = over-confidence because of earlier successes ).

Once invested, keep rechecking the story every few months. Times are bad. If you don’t look, it is likely that a CEO will pull a stunt right under your nose. Yes, it’s totally possible that your investment doesn’t meet your criteria anymore, and that you are still invested. Don’t let that happen.

At least with regards to debt, have an exact check-list. If a company doesn’t meet your standards regarding debt, discard the company. During times of high interest-rates, large debt on the balance-sheet is like a raging fire which refuses to be stilled, and which can well terminate the existence of a company.

Your success as a long-term investor depends much on how you react to debt.

Here’s wishing you wary and successful investing!

Cheers!   🙂

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s