Stock Analysis

Is GBLT (CVE:GBLT) Using Too Much Debt?

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TSXV:GBLT
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Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that '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 can see that GBLT Corp. (CVE:GBLT) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

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What Is GBLT's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of June 2022 GBLT had €3.19m of debt, an increase on €1.43m, over one year. On the flip side, it has €580.3k in cash leading to net debt of about €2.61m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSXV:GBLT Debt to Equity History September 1st 2022

A Look At GBLT's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, GBLT had liabilities of €9.00m due within 12 months, and liabilities of €209.8k due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had €580.3k in cash and €3.85m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total €4.78m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit is considerable relative to its market capitalization of €7.76m, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on GBLT's use of debt. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe dilution.

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).

GBLT shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (6.0), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 1.7 times the interest expense. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Even worse, GBLT saw its EBIT tank 31% over the last 12 months. If earnings continue to follow that trajectory, paying off that debt load will be harder than convincing us to run a marathon in the rain. 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 GBLT will need earnings to service that debt. 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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last two years, GBLT burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

To be frank both GBLT's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and its track record of (not) growing its EBIT make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. And furthermore, its interest cover also fails to instill confidence. After considering the datapoints discussed, we think GBLT has too much debt. While some investors love that sort of risky play, it's certainly not our cup of tea. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example GBLT has 5 warning signs (and 4 which are a bit concerning) we think you should know about.

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.

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About TSXV:GBLT

GBLT

GBLT Corp., through its subsidiary, German Battery Trading GmbH, manufactures and distributes mobile power products in Germany, the rest of the European Union, and internationally.

The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.

Analysis AreaScore (0-6)
Valuation0
Future Growth0
Past Performance4
Financial Health1
Dividends0

Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.

Proven track record with worrying balance sheet.