Beasley Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:BBGI) Use Of Debt Could Be Considered Risky

By
Simply Wall St
Published
December 01, 2021
NasdaqGM:BBGI
Source: Shutterstock

Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a 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. As with many other companies Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:BBGI) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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 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. 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 Beasley Broadcast Group

What Is Beasley Broadcast Group's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of September 2021, Beasley Broadcast Group had US$303.4m of debt, up from US$260.1m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$48.1m, its net debt is less, at about US$255.3m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGM:BBGI Debt to Equity History December 2nd 2021

How Strong Is Beasley Broadcast Group's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Beasley Broadcast Group had liabilities of US$43.8m due within a year, and liabilities of US$467.2m falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$48.1m as well as receivables valued at US$47.2m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$415.7m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the US$57.8m company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, Beasley Broadcast Group would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Weak interest cover of 0.95 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 7.5 hit our confidence in Beasley Broadcast Group like a one-two punch to the gut. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. However, the silver lining was that Beasley Broadcast Group achieved a positive EBIT of US$23m in the last twelve months, an improvement on the prior year's loss. 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 Beasley Broadcast Group can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. Over the last year, Beasley Broadcast Group saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

To be frank both Beasley Broadcast Group's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least its EBIT growth rate is not so bad. We think the chances that Beasley Broadcast Group has too much debt a very significant. To our minds, that means the stock is rather high risk, and probably one to avoid; but to each their own (investing) style. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Be aware that Beasley Broadcast Group is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is potentially serious...

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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