Trevali Mining (TSE:TV) Seems To Be Using A Lot Of Debt

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 27, 2021
TSX:TV
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. As with many other companies Trevali Mining Corporation (TSE:TV) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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 think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Trevali Mining

What Is Trevali Mining's Net Debt?

As you can see below, Trevali Mining had US$126.4m of debt, at June 2021, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$27.7m, its net debt is less, at about US$98.8m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:TV Debt to Equity History October 28th 2021

A Look At Trevali Mining's Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Trevali Mining had liabilities of US$79.1m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$271.8m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$27.7m as well as receivables valued at US$84.7m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$238.5m.

Given this deficit is actually higher than the company's market capitalization of US$180.3m, we think shareholders really should watch Trevali Mining's debt levels, like a parent watching their child ride a bike for the first time. In the scenario where the company had to clean up its balance sheet quickly, it seems likely shareholders would suffer extensive dilution.

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

Given net debt is only 1.1 times EBITDA, it is initially surprising to see that Trevali Mining's EBIT has low interest coverage of 0.56 times. So while we're not necessarily alarmed we think that its debt is far from trivial. Notably, Trevali Mining made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, but improved that to positive EBIT of US$6.4m in the last twelve months. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Trevali Mining 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. So it's worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. Considering the last year, Trevali Mining actually recorded a cash outflow, overall. Debt is usually more expensive, and almost always more risky in the hands of a company with negative free cash flow. Shareholders ought to hope for an improvement.

Our View

To be frank both Trevali Mining's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and its track record of covering its interest expense with 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. Overall, it seems to us that Trevali Mining's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. For this reason we're pretty cautious about the stock, and we think shareholders should keep a close eye on its liquidity. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Trevali Mining you should be aware of.

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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