Stock Analysis

Is IBC Advanced Alloys (CVE:IB) Using Too Much Debt?

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TSXV:IB
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David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' 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. We can see that IBC Advanced Alloys Corp. (CVE:IB) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for IBC Advanced Alloys

What Is IBC Advanced Alloys's Debt?

As you can see below, IBC Advanced Alloys had US$7.50m of debt, at March 2022, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, it does have US$423.0k in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$7.08m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSXV:IB Debt to Equity History September 1st 2022

How Healthy Is IBC Advanced Alloys' Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that IBC Advanced Alloys had liabilities of US$11.8m due within a year, and liabilities of US$5.98m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$423.0k and US$1.40m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$16.0m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's US$14.9m market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. Hypothetically, extremely heavy dilution would be required if the company were forced to pay down its liabilities by raising capital at the current share price.

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).

While IBC Advanced Alloys's debt to EBITDA ratio (3.5) suggests that it uses some debt, its interest cover is very weak, at 1.0, suggesting high leverage. So shareholders should probably be aware that interest expenses appear to have really impacted the business lately. However, the silver lining was that IBC Advanced Alloys achieved a positive EBIT of US$1.1m in the last twelve months, an improvement on the prior year's loss. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is IBC Advanced Alloys's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. 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 it's worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. During the last year, IBC Advanced Alloys burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

On the face of it, IBC Advanced Alloys's interest cover left us tentative about the stock, and its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But at least its EBIT growth rate is not so bad. Overall, it seems to us that IBC Advanced Alloys'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. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for IBC Advanced Alloys that you should be aware of before investing here.

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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