These 4 Measures Indicate That MarineMax (NYSE:HZO) Is Using Debt In A Risky Way

MarineMax, Inc. -1.16%

MarineMax, Inc.

HZO

33.35

-1.16%

The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a 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. We can see that MarineMax, Inc. (NYSE:HZO) does use debt in its business. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for MarineMax

What Is MarineMax's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at December 2023 MarineMax had debt of US$1.08b, up from US$788.9m in one year. However, it also had US$210.3m in cash, and so its net debt is US$869.3m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:HZO Debt to Equity History March 30th 2024

How Healthy Is MarineMax's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that MarineMax had liabilities of US$940.0m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$651.9m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$210.3m as well as receivables valued at US$101.1m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$1.28b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the US$741.7m 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. After all, MarineMax would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.

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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

MarineMax has a debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.8 and its EBIT covered its interest expense 3.0 times. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. Worse, MarineMax's EBIT was down 30% over the last year. If earnings continue to follow that trajectory, paying off that debt load will be harder than convincing us to run a marathon in the rain. 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 MarineMax 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 always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, MarineMax recorded negative free cash flow, in total. Debt is usually more expensive, and almost always more risky in the hands of a company with negative free cash flow. Shareholders ought to hope for an improvement.

Our View

To be frank both MarineMax's EBIT growth rate and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. And even its interest cover fails to inspire much confidence. Considering all the factors previously mentioned, we think that MarineMax really is carrying too much debt. To us, that makes the stock rather risky, like walking through a dog park with your eyes closed. But some investors may feel differently. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for MarineMax (1 is significant) you should be aware of.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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