Is Diana Shipping (NYSE:DSX) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 26, 2022
NYSE:DSX
Source: Shutterstock

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 Diana Shipping Inc. (NYSE:DSX) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Diana Shipping

What Is Diana Shipping's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of March 2022, Diana Shipping had US$463.4m of debt, up from US$411.4m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$115.7m, its net debt is less, at about US$347.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:DSX Debt to Equity History May 26th 2022

How Strong Is Diana Shipping's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Diana Shipping had liabilities of US$65.1m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$495.4m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$115.7m as well as receivables valued at US$3.78m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$441.1m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit is considerable relative to its market capitalization of US$466.7m, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on Diana Shipping's use of debt. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry.

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.

Diana Shipping has a debt to EBITDA ratio of 2.8 and its EBIT covered its interest expense 4.5 times. Taken together this implies that, while we wouldn't want to see debt levels rise, we think it can handle its current leverage. One redeeming factor for Diana Shipping is that it turned last year's EBIT loss into a gain of US$90m, over the last twelve months. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Diana Shipping 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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. Over the most recent year, Diana Shipping recorded free cash flow worth 79% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Diana Shipping's level of total liabilities and net debt to EBITDA definitely weigh on it, in our esteem. But its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow tells a very different story, and suggests some resilience. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Diana Shipping 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 instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for Diana Shipping (1 doesn't sit too well with us) you should be aware of.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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