Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Circa Enterprises (CVE:CTO) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well

TSXV:CTO
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David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' 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 can see that Circa Enterprises Inc. (CVE:CTO) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for Circa Enterprises

How Much Debt Does Circa Enterprises Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at June 2021 Circa Enterprises had debt of CA$3.23m, up from CA$140.0k in one year. On the flip side, it has CA$304.0k in cash leading to net debt of about CA$2.92m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSXV:CTO Debt to Equity History September 10th 2021

How Strong Is Circa Enterprises' Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Circa Enterprises had liabilities of CA$8.65m due within 12 months and liabilities of CA$4.71m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of CA$304.0k as well as receivables valued at CA$5.65m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling CA$7.41m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of CA$11.6m. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry.

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.

Circa Enterprises's net debt is only 1.1 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 12.7 times the size. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. Better yet, Circa Enterprises grew its EBIT by 151% last year, which is an impressive improvement. If maintained that growth will make the debt even more manageable in the years ahead. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Circa Enterprises's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. 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 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. During the last three years, Circa Enterprises produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 77% 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

Happily, Circa Enterprises's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its level of total liabilities. 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. 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 2 warning signs we've spotted with Circa Enterprises (including 1 which is a bit unpleasant) .

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.

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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.
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