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.’ So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. Importantly, Badger Infrastructure Solutions Ltd. (TSE:BDGI) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
When Is Debt Dangerous?
Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can’t fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. 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.
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How Much Debt Does Badger Infrastructure Solutions Carry?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of June 2023 Badger Infrastructure Solutions had US$165.4m of debt, an increase on US$144.5m, over one year. Net debt is about the same, since the it doesn’t have much cash.
How Strong Is Badger Infrastructure Solutions’ Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Badger Infrastructure Solutions had liabilities of US$121.6m due within a year, and liabilities of US$245.1m falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$2.48m as well as receivables valued at US$165.3m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$198.8m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
Badger Infrastructure Solutions has a market capitalization of US$913.1m, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But it’s clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.
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). 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).
Badger Infrastructure Solutions has net debt worth 1.6 times EBITDA, which isn’t too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 4.6 times the interest expense. While that doesn’t worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. Pleasingly, Badger Infrastructure Solutions is growing its EBIT faster than former Australian PM Bob Hawke downs a yard glass, boasting a 218% gain in the last twelve months. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Badger Infrastructure Solutions’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.
But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So it’s worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. In the last three years, Badger Infrastructure Solutions’s free cash flow amounted to 40% of its EBIT, less than we’d expect. That’s not great, when it comes to paying down debt.
Happily, Badger Infrastructure Solutions’s impressive EBIT growth rate implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But truth be told we feel its interest cover does undermine this impression a bit. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Badger Infrastructure Solutions can handle its debt fairly comfortably. Of course, while this leverage can enhance returns on equity, it does bring more risk, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this one. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we’ve spotted 2 warning signs for Badger Infrastructure Solutions you should know about.
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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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.