Is Calian Group (TSE:CGY) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 20, 2022
TSX:CGY
Source: Shutterstock

The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a 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 Calian Group Ltd. (TSE:CGY) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Calian Group

What Is Calian Group's Net Debt?

As you can see below, Calian Group had CA$25.4m of debt at March 2022, down from CA$55.0m a year prior. However, its balance sheet shows it holds CA$59.4m in cash, so it actually has CA$34.0m net cash.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:CGY Debt to Equity History May 20th 2022

How Strong Is Calian Group's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Calian Group had liabilities of CA$232.0m due within 12 months, and liabilities of CA$36.4m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had CA$59.4m in cash and CA$211.8m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So these liquid assets roughly match the total liabilities.

This state of affairs indicates that Calian Group's balance sheet looks quite solid, as its total liabilities are just about equal to its liquid assets. So it's very unlikely that the CA$793.3m company is short on cash, but still worth keeping an eye on the balance sheet. Succinctly put, Calian Group boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

The good news is that Calian Group has increased its EBIT by 7.7% over twelve months, which should ease any concerns about debt repayment. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Calian Group can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. Calian Group may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. Over the most recent three years, Calian Group recorded free cash flow worth 68% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Summing up

While we empathize with investors who find debt concerning, you should keep in mind that Calian Group has net cash of CA$34.0m, as well as more liquid assets than liabilities. The cherry on top was that in converted 68% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in CA$43m. So is Calian Group's debt a risk? It doesn't seem so to us. 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 Calian Group that you should be aware of before investing here.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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