Quest Resource Holding (NASDAQ:QRHC) Seems To Use Debt Rather Sparingly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
August 20, 2021
NasdaqCM:QRHC
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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 Quest Resource Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:QRHC) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth 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 Quest Resource Holding

What Is Quest Resource Holding's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of June 2021, Quest Resource Holding had US$15.4m of debt, up from US$3.79m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. On the flip side, it has US$10.0m in cash leading to net debt of about US$5.39m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqCM:QRHC Debt to Equity History August 20th 2021

How Healthy Is Quest Resource Holding's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Quest Resource Holding had liabilities of US$25.4m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$16.5m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$10.0m in cash and US$23.9m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$7.99m.

Since publicly traded Quest Resource Holding shares are worth a total of US$124.5m, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. 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.

While Quest Resource Holding's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 0.84 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 3.0 times last year does give us pause. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. Pleasingly, Quest Resource Holding is growing its EBIT faster than former Australian PM Bob Hawke downs a yard glass, boasting a 1,084% gain in the last twelve months. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Quest Resource Holding'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 it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Quest Resource Holding actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last two years. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

Quest Resource Holding's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. But the stark truth is that we are concerned by its interest cover. Looking at the bigger picture, we think Quest Resource Holding's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. While debt does bring risk, when used wisely it can also bring a higher return on equity. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Quest Resource Holding .

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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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.
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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.