Stock Analysis

Does WildBrain (TSE:WILD) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

TSX:WILD
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Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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 can see that WildBrain Ltd. (TSE:WILD) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

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What Is WildBrain's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2021 WildBrain had CA$575.5m of debt, an increase on CA$542.7m, over one year. However, it also had CA$53.8m in cash, and so its net debt is CA$521.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:WILD Debt to Equity History March 10th 2022

How Healthy Is WildBrain's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, WildBrain had liabilities of CA$279.5m due within 12 months, and liabilities of CA$595.1m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had CA$53.8m in cash and CA$253.9m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CA$567.0m.

This deficit is considerable relative to its market capitalization of CA$581.0m, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on WildBrain's use of debt. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe dilution.

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). 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).

WildBrain shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (6.6), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 1.6 times the interest expense. The debt burden here is substantial. On a slightly more positive note, WildBrain grew its EBIT at 11% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if WildBrain 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 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, WildBrain actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

Neither WildBrain's ability handle its debt, based on its EBITDA, nor its interest cover gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But the good news is it seems to be able to convert EBIT to free cash flow with ease. Taking the abovementioned factors together we do think WildBrain's debt poses some risks to the business. While that debt can boost returns, we think the company has enough leverage now. 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 instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for WildBrain that 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.

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

Find out whether WildBrain 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.