Is Cellnet Group (ASX:CLT) A Risky Investment?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
August 27, 2021
ASX:CLT
Source: Shutterstock

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.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. As with many other companies Cellnet Group Limited (ASX:CLT) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. 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 Cellnet Group

How Much Debt Does Cellnet Group Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Cellnet Group had debt of AU$8.36m at the end of June 2021, a reduction from AU$10.3m over a year. On the flip side, it has AU$7.00m in cash leading to net debt of about AU$1.36m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
ASX:CLT Debt to Equity History August 27th 2021

How Strong Is Cellnet Group's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Cellnet Group had liabilities of AU$19.6m falling due within a year, and liabilities of AU$321.0k due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of AU$7.00m and AU$13.2m worth of receivables due within a year. So these liquid assets roughly match the total liabilities.

This state of affairs indicates that Cellnet Group's balance sheet looks quite solid, as its total liabilities are just about equal to its liquid assets. So it's very unlikely that the AU$15.5m company is short on cash, but still worth keeping an eye on the balance sheet.

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

Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 0.24 and interest cover of 6.1 times, it seems to us that Cellnet Group is probably using debt in a pretty reasonable way. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. Although Cellnet Group made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, it was also good to see that it generated AU$4.6m in EBIT over the last twelve months. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Cellnet Group will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. During the last year, Cellnet Group produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 52% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

The good news is that Cellnet Group's demonstrated ability handle its debt, based on its EBITDA, delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And we also thought its level of total liabilities was a positive. All these things considered, it appears that Cellnet Group can comfortably handle its current debt levels. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Cellnet Group (including 2 which can't be ignored) .

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.

When trading Cellnet Group or any other investment, use the platform considered by many to be the Professional's Gateway to the Worlds Market, Interactive Brokers. You get the lowest-cost* trading on stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account. Promoted


Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.

Make Confident Investment Decisions

Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.