- Metals and Mining
Eldorado Gold (TSE:ELD) Has A Somewhat Strained 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.' 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. Importantly, Eldorado Gold Corporation (TSE:ELD) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
What Risk Does Debt Bring?
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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.
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What Is Eldorado Gold's Debt?
The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Eldorado Gold had US$494.4m in debt in December 2022; about the same as the year before. However, it does have US$314.9m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$179.5m.
How Healthy Is Eldorado Gold's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Eldorado Gold had liabilities of US$210.9m due within a year, and liabilities of US$1.05b falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$314.9m as well as receivables valued at US$67.0m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$875.1m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Eldorado Gold has a market capitalization of US$1.77b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. 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.
Given net debt is only 0.60 times EBITDA, it is initially surprising to see that Eldorado Gold's EBIT has low interest coverage of 2.2 times. So one way or the other, it's clear the debt levels are not trivial. Importantly, Eldorado Gold's EBIT fell a jaw-dropping 70% in the last twelve months. If that earnings trend continues then paying off its debt will be about as easy as herding cats on to a roller coaster. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Eldorado Gold'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 we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Eldorado Gold recorded free cash flow worth 51% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.
To be frank both Eldorado Gold's interest cover and its track record of (not) growing its EBIT make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least it's pretty decent at managing its debt, based on its EBITDA,; that's encouraging. Once we consider all the factors above, together, it seems to us that Eldorado Gold'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. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Eldorado Gold that you should be aware of.
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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Find out whether Eldorado Gold 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.View the Free Analysis
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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.
Eldorado Gold Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the mining, exploration, development, and sale of mineral products primarily in Turkey, Canada, Greece, and Romania.
Proven track record with reasonable growth potential.