Sims (ASX:SGM) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 27, 2021
ASX:SGM
Source: Shutterstock

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.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt - which is usually involved in bankruptcies - is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. We can see that Sims Limited (ASX:SGM) 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 and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Sims

How Much Debt Does Sims Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of June 2021 Sims had AU$232.0m of debt, an increase on AU$116.9m, over one year. But it also has AU$254.1m in cash to offset that, meaning it has AU$22.1m net cash.

debt-equity-history-analysis
ASX:SGM Debt to Equity History September 28th 2021

How Healthy Is Sims' Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Sims had liabilities of AU$850.7m due within 12 months and liabilities of AU$778.0m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had AU$254.1m in cash and AU$574.5m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling AU$800.1m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Sims has a market capitalization of AU$2.71b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution. While it does have liabilities worth noting, Sims also has more cash than debt, so we're pretty confident it can manage its debt safely.

It was also good to see that despite losing money on the EBIT line last year, Sims turned things around in the last 12 months, delivering and EBIT of AU$111m. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Sims can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. Sims may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. Considering the last year, Sims actually recorded a cash outflow, overall. 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.

Summing up

Although Sims's balance sheet isn't particularly strong, due to the total liabilities, it is clearly positive to see that it has net cash of AU$22.1m. So we are not troubled with Sims's debt use. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Sims (of which 1 can't be ignored!) 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.

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.

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Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.