Saferoads Holdings (ASX:SRH) Has A Somewhat Strained Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
December 17, 2021
ASX:SRH
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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 note that Saferoads Holdings Limited (ASX:SRH) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own 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.

View our latest analysis for Saferoads Holdings

What Is Saferoads Holdings's Debt?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Saferoads Holdings had AU$3.29m in debt in June 2021; about the same as the year before. However, it does have AU$745.8k in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about AU$2.55m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
ASX:SRH Debt to Equity History December 17th 2021

A Look At Saferoads Holdings' Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Saferoads Holdings had liabilities of AU$3.64m falling due within a year, and liabilities of AU$4.07m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of AU$745.8k and AU$1.49m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total AU$5.46m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Saferoads Holdings has a market capitalization of AU$9.37m, 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.

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).

Saferoads Holdings's net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 1.6 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 3.3 times last year. While that doesn't worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. Sadly, Saferoads Holdings's EBIT actually dropped 8.4% in the last year. If earnings continue on that decline then managing that debt will be difficult like delivering hot soup on a unicycle. 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 Saferoads Holdings 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 the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. In the last three years, Saferoads Holdings basically broke even on a free cash flow basis. Some might say that's a concern, when it comes considering how easily it would be for it to down debt.

Our View

On the face of it, Saferoads Holdings's interest cover left us tentative about the stock, and its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But at least it's pretty decent at managing its debt, based on its EBITDA,; that's encouraging. We should also note that Infrastructure industry companies like Saferoads Holdings commonly do use debt without problems. Looking at the balance sheet and taking into account all these factors, we do believe that debt is making Saferoads Holdings stock a bit risky. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we'd generally feel more comfortable with less leverage. 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. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Saferoads Holdings (1 is a bit unpleasant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

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.