Stock Analysis

Is Smart Sand (NASDAQ:SND) A Risky Investment?

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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.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. We note that Smart Sand, Inc. (NASDAQ:SND) does have debt on its balance sheet. 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 frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Smart Sand

How Much Debt Does Smart Sand Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Smart Sand had debt of US$28.9m at the end of December 2020, a reduction from US$33.8m over a year. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$11.7m, its net debt is less, at about US$17.1m.

NasdaqGS:SND Debt to Equity History April 19th 2021

A Look At Smart Sand's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Smart Sand had liabilities of US$37.3m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$101.6m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$11.7m as well as receivables valued at US$69.8m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$57.3m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Smart Sand has a market capitalization of US$100.2m, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate 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. 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 Smart Sand'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.

Over 12 months, Smart Sand made a loss at the EBIT level, and saw its revenue drop to US$122m, which is a fall of 47%. To be frank that doesn't bode well.

Caveat Emptor

While Smart Sand's falling revenue is about as heartwarming as a wet blanket, arguably its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss is even less appealing. To be specific the EBIT loss came in at US$8.4m. Considering that alongside the liabilities mentioned above does not give us much confidence that company should be using so much debt. So we think its balance sheet is a little strained, though not beyond repair. Surprisingly, we note that it actually reported positive free cash flow of US$17m and a profit of US$38m. So if we focus on those metrics there seems to be a chance the company will manage its debt without much trouble. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should learn about the 5 warning signs we've spotted with Smart Sand (including 1 which is potentially serious) .

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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