Does Quorum Information Technologies (CVE:QIS) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 01, 2021
TSXV:QIS
Source: Shutterstock

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.' 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. As with many other companies Quorum Information Technologies Inc. (CVE:QIS) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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 common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Quorum Information Technologies

What Is Quorum Information Technologies's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Quorum Information Technologies had debt of CA$8.72m at the end of June 2021, a reduction from CA$9.32m over a year. On the flip side, it has CA$7.20m in cash leading to net debt of about CA$1.51m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSXV:QIS Debt to Equity History September 2nd 2021

How Strong Is Quorum Information Technologies' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Quorum Information Technologies had liabilities of CA$3.95m due within 12 months, and liabilities of CA$14.2m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of CA$7.20m and CA$3.90m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CA$7.05m.

Of course, Quorum Information Technologies has a market capitalization of CA$83.7m, so these liabilities are probably manageable. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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

Quorum Information Technologies's debt of just -5.2 times EBITDA is clearly modest. But EBIT was only 0.21 times the interest expense last year, which shows that the debt has negatively impacted the business, by constraining its options (and restricting its free cash flow). Notably, Quorum Information Technologies made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, but improved that to positive EBIT of CA$315k in the last twelve months. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Quorum Information Technologies 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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. Over the last year, Quorum Information Technologies recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 98% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Our View

Happily, Quorum Information Technologies's impressive net debt to EBITDA implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But we must concede we find its interest cover has the opposite effect. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Quorum Information Technologies can handle its debt fairly comfortably. Of course, while this leverage can enhance returns on equity, it does bring more risk, so it's worth keeping an eye on this one. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Quorum Information Technologies you should be aware of, and 1 of them is a bit unpleasant.

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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