Stock Analysis

Here's Why BioRem (CVE:BRM) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

TSXV:BRM
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Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt - which is usually involved in bankruptcies - is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. We can see that BioRem Inc. (CVE:BRM) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for BioRem

How Much Debt Does BioRem Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at September 2022 BioRem had debt of CA$4.42m, up from none in one year. On the flip side, it has CA$3.57m in cash leading to net debt of about CA$851.9k.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSXV:BRM Debt to Equity History March 23rd 2023

How Strong Is BioRem's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that BioRem had liabilities of CA$13.6m due within 12 months and liabilities of CA$3.39m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of CA$3.57m and CA$11.1m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CA$2.31m.

Of course, BioRem has a market capitalization of CA$15.2m, 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.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). 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).

BioRem's net debt is only 0.21 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 19.0 times over. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. Better yet, BioRem grew its EBIT by 254% last year, which is an impressive improvement. If maintained that growth will make the debt even more manageable in the years ahead. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since BioRem 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, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. In the last two years, BioRem's free cash flow amounted to 43% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

Happily, BioRem's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its EBIT growth rate is also very heartening. Looking at the bigger picture, we think BioRem's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. After all, sensible leverage can boost returns on equity. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for BioRem (1 is significant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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

Find out whether BioRem 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.