Stock Analysis

Does Korab Resources (ASX:KOR) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

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ASX:KOR
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Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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. Importantly, Korab Resources Limited (ASX:KOR) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Korab Resources

How Much Debt Does Korab Resources Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at December 2022 Korab Resources had debt of AU$3.40m, up from AU$2.93m in one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of AU$613.7k, its net debt is less, at about AU$2.79m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
ASX:KOR Debt to Equity History March 24th 2023

How Healthy Is Korab Resources' Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Korab Resources had liabilities of AU$496.1k falling due within a year, and liabilities of AU$3.02m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of AU$613.7k as well as receivables valued at AU$159.7k due within 12 months. So its liabilities total AU$2.74m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Korab Resources has a market capitalization of AU$6.24m, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

While we wouldn't worry about Korab Resources's net debt to EBITDA ratio of 4.4, we think its super-low interest cover of 0.89 times is a sign of high leverage. In large part that's due to the company's significant depreciation and amortisation charges, which arguably mean its EBITDA is a very generous measure of earnings, and its debt may be more of a burden than it first appears. So shareholders should probably be aware that interest expenses appear to have really impacted the business lately. Even worse, Korab Resources saw its EBIT tank 53% over the last 12 months. If earnings keep going like that over the long term, it has a snowball's chance in hell of paying off that debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Korab Resources will need earnings to service that debt. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last three years, Korab Resources saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

On the face of it, Korab Resources's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow left us tentative about the stock, and its EBIT growth rate was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. Having said that, its ability to handle its total liabilities isn't such a worry. After considering the datapoints discussed, we think Korab Resources has too much debt. That sort of riskiness is ok for some, but it certainly doesn't float our boat. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 5 warning signs for Korab Resources (of which 4 are a bit unpleasant!) 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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