- Oil and Gas
Does Crew Energy (TSE:CR) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?
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.' 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 note that Crew Energy Inc. (TSE:CR) does have debt on its balance sheet. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
When Is Debt A Problem?
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. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.
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What Is Crew Energy's Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Crew Energy had debt of CA$171.3m at the end of December 2022, a reduction from CA$372.9m over a year. On the flip side, it has CA$54.7m in cash leading to net debt of about CA$116.6m.
How Strong Is Crew Energy's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Crew Energy had liabilities of CA$100.1m due within a year, and liabilities of CA$345.3m falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of CA$54.7m as well as receivables valued at CA$62.9m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling CA$327.7m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Crew Energy has a market capitalization of CA$716.0m, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.
We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
Crew Energy has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.30. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 13.1 times the size. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. Better yet, Crew Energy grew its EBIT by 423% last year, which is an impressive improvement. That boost will make it even easier to pay down debt going forward. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Crew Energy's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Looking at the most recent two years, Crew Energy recorded free cash flow of 23% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.
Crew Energy's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Crew Energy can handle its debt fairly comfortably. Of course, while this leverage can enhance returns on equity, it does bring more risk, so it's worth keeping an eye on this one. 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 Crew Energy is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...
If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.
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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.
Crew Energy Inc. engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, and production of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids (NGL) in Canada.
Excellent balance sheet and slightly overvalued.