Is Pan African Resources (LON:PAF) A Risky Investment?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
February 25, 2021
AIM:PAF

Warren Buffett famously said, '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. We note that Pan African Resources PLC (LON:PAF) does have debt on its balance sheet. 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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Pan African Resources

What Is Pan African Resources's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Pan African Resources had US$87.2m of debt in December 2020, down from US$113.2m, one year before. However, it also had US$28.0m in cash, and so its net debt is US$59.3m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
AIM:PAF Debt to Equity History February 25th 2021

How Strong Is Pan African Resources' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Pan African Resources had liabilities of US$71.4m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$120.6m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$28.0m as well as receivables valued at US$22.3m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$141.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit isn't so bad because Pan African Resources is worth US$510.8m, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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.

Pan African Resources's net debt is only 0.51 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 11.4 times over. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. On top of that, Pan African Resources grew its EBIT by 64% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Pan African Resources can strengthen its balance sheet over time. 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 we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, Pan African Resources burned a lot of cash. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.

Our View

Based on what we've seen Pan African Resources is not finding it easy, given its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow, but the other factors we considered give us cause to be optimistic. In particular, we are dazzled with its EBIT growth rate. Considering this range of data points, we think Pan African Resources is in a good position to manage its debt levels. But a word of caution: we think debt levels are high enough to justify ongoing monitoring. 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. Be aware that Pan African Resources is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...

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.

Promoted
If you’re looking to trade Pan African Resources, open an account with the lowest-cost* platform trusted by professionals, Interactive Brokers. Their clients from over 200 countries and territories trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account.


This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020


Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.


Simply Wall St character - Warren

Simply Wall St

Simply Wall St is a financial technology startup focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of equity analysts with a public, market-beating track record. Learn more about the team behind Simply Wall St.