Stock Analysis

Is BioRem (CVE:BRM) Using Too Much Debt?

TSXV:BRM
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Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. Importantly, BioRem Inc. (CVE:BRM) does carry debt. 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 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. 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

What Is BioRem's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that BioRem had CA$4.38m of debt in June 2023, down from CA$4.76m, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of CA$1.59m, its net debt is less, at about CA$2.80m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSXV:BRM Debt to Equity History August 26th 2023

How Healthy Is BioRem's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that BioRem had liabilities of CA$10.3m due within a year, and liabilities of CA$2.97m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of CA$1.59m and CA$9.69m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CA$1.98m.

Since publicly traded BioRem shares are worth a total of CA$16.3m, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

With net debt sitting at just 1.4 times EBITDA, BioRem is arguably pretty conservatively geared. And it boasts interest cover of 7.4 times, which is more than adequate. In fact BioRem's saving grace is its low debt levels, because its EBIT has tanked 35% in the last twelve months. When a company sees its earnings tank, it can sometimes find its relationships with its lenders turn sour. 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 when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, BioRem produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 67% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Based on what we've seen BioRem is not finding it easy, given its EBIT growth rate, but the other factors we considered give us cause to be optimistic. In particular, we are dazzled with its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. Looking at all this data makes us feel a little cautious about BioRem's debt levels. While we appreciate debt can enhance returns on equity, we'd suggest that shareholders keep close watch on its debt levels, lest they increase. 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. Be aware that BioRem is showing 6 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 3 of those can't be ignored...

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.

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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.