- Renewable Energy
Does Boralex (TSE:BLX) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?
Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. Importantly, Boralex Inc. (TSE:BLX) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
Why Does Debt Bring Risk?
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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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.
View our latest analysis for Boralex
What Is Boralex's Net Debt?
As you can see below, Boralex had CA$3.16b of debt at September 2022, down from CA$3.69b a year prior. However, because it has a cash reserve of CA$632.0m, its net debt is less, at about CA$2.53b.
How Healthy Is Boralex's Balance Sheet?
We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Boralex had liabilities of CA$510.0m falling due within a year, and liabilities of CA$3.79b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of CA$632.0m as well as receivables valued at CA$151.0m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling CA$3.52b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of CA$3.97b. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry.
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.
Weak interest cover of 1.4 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 5.5 hit our confidence in Boralex like a one-two punch to the gut. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Fortunately, Boralex grew its EBIT by 4.6% in the last year, slowly shrinking its debt relative to earnings. 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 Boralex 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 that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Boralex generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 95% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.
Neither Boralex's ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT nor its net debt to EBITDA gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow tells a very different story, and suggests some resilience. Taking the abovementioned factors together we do think Boralex's debt poses some risks to the business. While that debt can boost returns, we think the company has enough leverage now. 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. Be aware that Boralex is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...
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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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.
Boralex Inc., together with its subsidiaries, engages in the development, construction, and operation of renewable energy power facilities primarily in Canada, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Proven track record with moderate growth potential.