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. Importantly, SG Company S.p.A. (BIT:SGC) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
When Is Debt A Problem?
Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
What Is SG's Net Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at December 2021 SG had debt of €6.81m, up from €5.05m in one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of €5.99m, its net debt is less, at about €813.0k.
How Strong Is SG's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that SG had liabilities of €5.26m due within a year, and liabilities of €9.08m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of €5.99m and €5.18m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total €3.16m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This deficit isn't so bad because SG is worth €10.5m, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off 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 SG 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.
Over 12 months, SG reported revenue of €12m, which is a gain of 9.3%, although it did not report any earnings before interest and tax. We usually like to see faster growth from unprofitable companies, but each to their own.
Importantly, SG had an earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss over the last year. Indeed, it lost €74k at the EBIT level. Considering that alongside the liabilities mentioned above does not give us much confidence that company should be using so much debt. Quite frankly we think the balance sheet is far from match-fit, although it could be improved with time. Another cause for caution is that is bled €1.6m in negative free cash flow over the last twelve months. So suffice it to say we consider the stock very risky. 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 SG is showing 3 warning signs 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.