Stock Analysis

Circa Enterprises (CVE:CTO) Seems To Use Debt Rather Sparingly

TSXV:CTO
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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.' 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. Importantly, Circa Enterprises Inc. (CVE:CTO) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for Circa Enterprises

What Is Circa Enterprises's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of June 2022 Circa Enterprises had CA$3.74m of debt, an increase on CA$3.23m, over one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of CA$478.0k, its net debt is less, at about CA$3.26m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSXV:CTO Debt to Equity History September 20th 2022

How Strong Is Circa Enterprises' Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Circa Enterprises had liabilities of CA$9.72m due within a year, and liabilities of CA$3.56m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of CA$478.0k and CA$7.48m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CA$5.31m.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Circa Enterprises has a market capitalization of CA$13.6m, 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.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Circa Enterprises has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.90. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 10.5 times over. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. On top of that, Circa Enterprises grew its EBIT by 47% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its 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 Circa Enterprises 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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Circa Enterprises actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

Happily, Circa Enterprises's impressive conversion of EBIT to free cash flow implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And the good news does not stop there, as its EBIT growth rate also supports that impression! Looking at the bigger picture, we think Circa Enterprises's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. While debt does bring risk, when used wisely it can also bring a higher return on equity. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Circa Enterprises (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Circa Enterprises is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.