Century Casinos (NASDAQ:CNTY) Has A Somewhat Strained Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 19, 2022
NasdaqCM:CNTY
Source: Shutterstock

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.' 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. Importantly, Century Casinos, Inc. (NASDAQ:CNTY) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. 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. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Century Casinos

What Is Century Casinos's Net Debt?

As you can see below, Century Casinos had US$167.1m of debt, at September 2021, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$100.8m, its net debt is less, at about US$66.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqCM:CNTY Debt to Equity History January 19th 2022

How Strong Is Century Casinos' Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Century Casinos had liabilities of US$59.5m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$494.6m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$100.8m and US$9.27m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$444.1m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's US$313.6m market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. Hypothetically, extremely heavy dilution would be required if the company were forced to pay down its liabilities by raising capital at the current share price.

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.

Given net debt is only 0.73 times EBITDA, it is initially surprising to see that Century Casinos's EBIT has low interest coverage of 1.5 times. So one way or the other, it's clear the debt levels are not trivial. Notably, Century Casinos's EBIT launched higher than Elon Musk, gaining a whopping 175% on last year. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Century Casinos's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. 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 clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. In the last three years, Century Casinos's free cash flow amounted to 25% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

On the face of it, Century Casinos's level of total liabilities left us tentative about the stock, and its interest cover was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But on the bright side, its EBIT growth rate is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Once we consider all the factors above, together, it seems to us that Century Casinos's debt is making it a bit risky. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we'd generally feel more comfortable with less leverage. 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 Century Casinos is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is concerning...

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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