Stock Analysis

We Think Zedcor (CVE:ZDC) Is Taking Some Risk With Its Debt

TSXV:ZDC
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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.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. Importantly, Zedcor Inc. (CVE:ZDC) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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.

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What Is Zedcor's Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of March 2022, Zedcor had CA$11.5m of debt, up from CA$7.92m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have CA$1.63m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about CA$9.88m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSXV:ZDC Debt to Equity History August 18th 2022

A Look At Zedcor's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Zedcor had liabilities of CA$5.97m due within 12 months, and liabilities of CA$14.8m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of CA$1.63m as well as receivables valued at CA$3.46m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CA$15.7m.

This deficit isn't so bad because Zedcor is worth CA$28.4m, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up 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.

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 Zedcor's debt to EBITDA ratio (4.4) suggests that it uses some debt, its interest cover is very weak, at 0.87, suggesting high leverage. It seems clear that the cost of borrowing money is negatively impacting returns for shareholders, of late. The good news is that Zedcor grew its EBIT a smooth 34% over the last twelve months. Like the milk of human kindness that sort of growth increases resilience, making the company more capable of managing debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Zedcor'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.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last two years, Zedcor 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 Zedcor's interest cover and its track record of converting EBIT to free cash flow make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least it's pretty decent at growing its EBIT; that's encouraging. Once we consider all the factors above, together, it seems to us that Zedcor's debt is making it a bit risky. Some people like that sort of risk, but we're mindful of the potential pitfalls, so we'd probably prefer it carry less debt. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Zedcor you should know about.

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 Zedcor 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.