Stock Analysis

Is Stingray Group (TSE:RAY.A) Using Too Much Debt?

TSX:RAY.A
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Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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. We can see that Stingray Group Inc. (TSE:RAY.A) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. 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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How Much Debt Does Stingray Group Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of June 2023, Stingray Group had CA$399.7m of debt, up from CA$383.9m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it also had CA$11.7m in cash, and so its net debt is CA$388.0m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:RAY.A Debt to Equity History November 7th 2023

How Healthy Is Stingray Group's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Stingray Group had liabilities of CA$100.6m due within 12 months, and liabilities of CA$485.4m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had CA$11.7m in cash and CA$78.2m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CA$496.1m.

This deficit casts a shadow over the CA$322.4m company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, Stingray Group would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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.

Stingray Group has a debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.7 and its EBIT covered its interest expense 3.2 times. Taken together this implies that, while we wouldn't want to see debt levels rise, we think it can handle its current leverage. Looking on the bright side, Stingray Group boosted its EBIT by a silky 37% in the last year. Like the milk of human kindness that sort of growth increases resilience, making the company more capable of managing debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Stingray Group'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, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last three years, Stingray Group actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

While Stingray Group's level of total liabilities has us nervous. To wit both its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and EBIT growth rate were encouraging signs. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Stingray Group is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since leverage can boost returns on equity, but it is something to be aware of. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Stingray Group that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Stingray Group 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.

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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.