February 21, 2024

The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt – which is usually involved in bankruptcies – is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. We can see that DMC Global Inc. (NASDAQ:BOOM) does use debt in its business. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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.
View our latest analysis for DMC Global
As you can see below, at the end of June 2022, DMC Global had US$140.0m of debt, up from none a year ago. Click the image for more detail. On the flip side, it has US$11.8m in cash leading to net debt of about US$128.2m.
The latest balance sheet data shows that DMC Global had liabilities of US$121.4m due within a year, and liabilities of US$189.9m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had US$11.8m in cash and US$94.4m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$205.1m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
DMC Global has a market capitalization of US$514.8m, 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.
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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.
While we wouldn't worry about DMC Global's net debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.2, we think its super-low interest cover of 0.17 times is a sign of high leverage. It seems that the business incurs large depreciation and amortisation charges, so maybe its debt load is heavier than it would first appear, since EBITDA is arguably a generous measure of earnings. It seems clear that the cost of borrowing money is negatively impacting returns for shareholders, of late. However, the silver lining was that DMC Global achieved a positive EBIT of US$394k in the last twelve months, an improvement on the prior year's loss. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine DMC Global's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.
Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. During the last year, DMC Global burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.
On the face of it, DMC Global's interest cover left us tentative about the stock, and its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. Having said that, its ability to grow its EBIT isn't such a worry. Looking at the bigger picture, it seems clear to us that DMC Global's use of debt is creating risks for the company. If everything goes well that may pay off but the downside of this debt is a greater risk of permanent losses. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for DMC Global you should know about.
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.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
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DMC Global Inc. provides a suite of technical products for the energy, industrial, and infrastructure markets worldwide.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
High growth potential and good value.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.
DMC Global Inc. provides a suite of technical products for the energy, industrial, and infrastructure markets worldwide.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
High growth potential and good value.
Simply Wall Street Pty Ltd (ACN 600 056 611), is a Corporate Authorised Representative (Authorised Representative Number: 467183) of Sanlam Private Wealth Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 337927). Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should not rely on any advice and/or information contained in this website and before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice. Please read our Financial Services Guide before deciding whether to obtain financial services from us.

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