Stock Analysis

Tronox Holdings (NYSE:TROX) Takes On Some Risk With Its Use Of Debt

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NYSE:TROX
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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 can see that Tronox Holdings plc (NYSE:TROX) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. 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.

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What Is Tronox Holdings's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Tronox Holdings had US$2.52b of debt in June 2022, down from US$2.87b, one year before. However, it also had US$125.0m in cash, and so its net debt is US$2.40b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:TROX Debt to Equity History September 13th 2022

How Strong Is Tronox Holdings' Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Tronox Holdings had liabilities of US$885.0m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$3.01b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$125.0m and US$649.0m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$3.12b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's US$2.29b market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. In the scenario where the company had to clean up its balance sheet quickly, it seems likely shareholders would suffer extensive dilution.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Tronox Holdings's debt is 2.6 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 5.4 times over. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. It is well worth noting that Tronox Holdings's EBIT shot up like bamboo after rain, gaining 50% in the last twelve months. That'll make it easier to manage its debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Tronox Holdings 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.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. During the last three years, Tronox Holdings produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 60% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

Tronox Holdings's level of total liabilities and net debt to EBITDA definitely weigh on it, in our esteem. But its EBIT growth rate tells a very different story, and suggests some resilience. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Tronox Holdings is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. 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. For example, we've discovered 4 warning signs for Tronox Holdings that you should be aware of before investing here.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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About NYSE:TROX

Tronox Holdings

Tronox Holdings plc operates as a vertically integrated manufacturer of TiO2 pigment in North America, South and Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific.

The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.

Analysis AreaScore (0-6)
Valuation5
Future Growth0
Past Performance4
Financial Health3
Dividends3

Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.

Undervalued with proven track record.