Stock Analysis

Does Daseke (NASDAQ:DSKE) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

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NasdaqCM:DSKE
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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.' 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. As with many other companies Daseke, Inc. (NASDAQ:DSKE) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

Our analysis indicates that DSKE is potentially undervalued!

How Much Debt Does Daseke Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of September 2022, Daseke had US$608.0m of debt, up from US$561.3m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have US$188.3m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$419.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqCM:DSKE Debt to Equity History November 16th 2022

How Healthy Is Daseke's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Daseke had liabilities of US$258.4m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$732.8m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$188.3m as well as receivables valued at US$210.3m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$592.6m.

Given this deficit is actually higher than the company's market capitalization of US$415.2m, we think shareholders really should watch Daseke's debt levels, like a parent watching their child ride a bike for the first time. 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.

Daseke has net debt worth 2.2 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 3.3 times the interest expense. While these numbers do not alarm us, it's worth noting that the cost of the company's debt is having a real impact. One way Daseke could vanquish its debt would be if it stops borrowing more but continues to grow EBIT at around 16%, as it did over the last year. 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 Daseke 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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Daseke actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three 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

Neither Daseke's ability to handle its total liabilities nor its interest cover gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But the good news is it seems to be able to convert EBIT to free cash flow with ease. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Daseke 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. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Daseke .

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Daseke is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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