Here's Why First Resources (SGX:EB5) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 27, 2021
SGX:EB5
Source: Shutterstock

David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. As with many other companies First Resources Limited (SGX:EB5) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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 common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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.

View our latest analysis for First Resources

What Is First Resources's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that First Resources had debt of US$408.9m at the end of June 2021, a reduction from US$455.6m over a year. On the flip side, it has US$192.0m in cash leading to net debt of about US$216.9m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SGX:EB5 Debt to Equity History September 28th 2021

A Look At First Resources' Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that First Resources had liabilities of US$354.9m due within a year, and liabilities of US$243.8m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had US$192.0m in cash and US$34.6m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$372.1m.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since First Resources has a market capitalization of US$1.79b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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.

First Resources has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.84. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 12.2 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. Fortunately, First Resources grew its EBIT by 4.4% in the last year, making that debt load look even more manageable. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine First Resources's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, First Resources recorded free cash flow of 40% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

Happily, First Resources's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And the good news does not stop there, as its net debt to EBITDA also supports that impression! All these things considered, it appears that First Resources can comfortably handle its current debt levels. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example, we've discovered 1 warning sign for First Resources that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

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.

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Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.