Stock Analysis

Is Tornado Global Hydrovacs (CVE:TGH) Using Too Much Debt?

TSXV:TGH
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Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. We note that Tornado Global Hydrovacs Ltd. (CVE:TGH) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Tornado Global Hydrovacs

How Much Debt Does Tornado Global Hydrovacs Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Tornado Global Hydrovacs had CA$5.95m of debt in June 2021, down from CA$6.56m, one year before. However, it also had CA$1.84m in cash, and so its net debt is CA$4.11m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSXV:TGH Debt to Equity History October 20th 2021

A Look At Tornado Global Hydrovacs' Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Tornado Global Hydrovacs had liabilities of CA$11.4m falling due within a year, and liabilities of CA$1.10m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of CA$1.84m as well as receivables valued at CA$3.08m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total CA$7.58m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Of course, Tornado Global Hydrovacs has a market capitalization of CA$57.0m, so these liabilities are probably manageable. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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

While Tornado Global Hydrovacs has a quite reasonable net debt to EBITDA multiple of 2.2, its interest cover seems weak, at 0.43. The main reason for this is that it has such high depreciation and amortisation. These charges may be non-cash, so they could be excluded when it comes to paying down debt. But the accounting charges are there for a reason -- some assets are seen to be losing value. Either way there's no doubt the stock is using meaningful leverage. Shareholders should be aware that Tornado Global Hydrovacs's EBIT was down 71% last year. If that earnings trend continues then paying off its debt will be about as easy as herding cats on to a roller coaster. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Tornado Global Hydrovacs's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, Tornado Global Hydrovacs recorded negative free cash flow, in total. Debt is far more risky for companies with unreliable free cash flow, so shareholders should be hoping that the past expenditure will produce free cash flow in the future.

Our View

To be frank both Tornado Global Hydrovacs's interest cover and its track record of (not) growing its EBIT make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. Having said that, its ability to handle its total liabilities isn't such a worry. We're quite clear that we consider Tornado Global Hydrovacs to be really rather risky, as a result of its balance sheet health. For this reason we're pretty cautious about the stock, and we think shareholders should keep a close eye on its liquidity. 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. We've identified 3 warning signs with Tornado Global Hydrovacs (at least 1 which is a bit concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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

Find out whether Tornado Global Hydrovacs 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.

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