Advertisement
Singapore markets open in 4 hours 37 minutes
  • Straits Times Index

    3,135.76
    -6.09 (-0.19%)
     
  • S&P 500

    5,137.08
    +40.81 (+0.80%)
     
  • Dow

    39,087.38
    +90.98 (+0.23%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    16,274.94
    +183.04 (+1.14%)
     
  • Bitcoin USD

    62,702.75
    +798.31 (+1.29%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    885.54
    0.00 (0.00%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,682.50
    +52.48 (+0.69%)
     
  • Gold

    2,091.60
    +36.90 (+1.76%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    79.81
    +1.55 (+1.98%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    4.1800
    -0.0720 (-1.69%)
     
  • Nikkei

    39,910.82
    +744.62 (+1.90%)
     
  • Hang Seng

    16,589.44
    +78.04 (+0.47%)
     
  • FTSE Bursa Malaysia

    1,538.02
    -13.42 (-0.86%)
     
  • Jakarta Composite Index

    7,311.91
    -7,316.11 (-50.01%)
     
  • PSE Index

    6,919.59
    -25.12 (-0.36%)
     

Analysing Uber Technologies' (NYSE:UBER) Debt

Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, '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 Uber Technologies, Inc. ( NYSE:UBER ) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Uber Technologies

How Much Debt Does Uber Technologies Carry?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Uber Technologies had US$9.41b in debt in September 2023; about the same as the year before. However, it does have US$5.17b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$4.23b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
debt-equity-history-analysis

How Healthy Is Uber Technologies' Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Uber Technologies had liabilities of US$9.41b falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$16.0b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$5.17b and US$3.67b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$16.6b.

Given Uber Technologies has a humongous market capitalization of US$123.0b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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.

While Uber Technologies's debt to EBITDA ratio (3.7) suggests that it uses some debt, its interest cover is very weak, at 1.4, suggesting high leverage. 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. It seems clear that the cost of borrowing money is negatively impacting returns for shareholders, of late. However, the silver lining was that Uber Technologies achieved a positive EBIT of US$316m in the last twelve months, an improvement on the prior year's loss. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Uber Technologies's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. 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 company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. Over the last year, Uber Technologies actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

When it comes to the balance sheet, the standout positive for Uber Technologies was the fact that it seems able to convert EBIT to free cash flow confidently. However, our other observations weren't so heartening. To be specific, it seems about as good at covering its interest expense with its EBIT as wet socks are at keeping your feet warm.  We think debt levels are high enough to justify ongoing monitoring. 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. For instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for Uber Technologies (1 is significant) you should be aware of.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet .

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.