February 5, 2023

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about… and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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 note that Santacruz Silver Mining Ltd. (CVE:SCZ) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. 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 examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
Check out our latest analysis for Santacruz Silver Mining
As you can see below, at the end of June 2022, Santacruz Silver Mining had US$22.2m of debt, up from US$15.7m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$8.29m, its net debt is less, at about US$13.9m.
We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Santacruz Silver Mining had liabilities of US$197.9m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$157.5m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$8.29m and US$70.9m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling US$276.2m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
The deficiency here weighs heavily on the US$73.7m 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. After all, Santacruz Silver Mining would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.
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.
Santacruz Silver Mining has net debt of just 0.27 times EBITDA, indicating that it is certainly not a reckless borrower. And it boasts interest cover of 9.5 times, which is more than adequate. Although Santacruz Silver Mining made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, it was also good to see that it generated US$35m in EBIT over the last twelve months. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Santacruz Silver Mining will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.
Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. 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, Santacruz Silver Mining produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 76% 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.
Santacruz Silver Mining's struggle to handle its total liabilities had us second guessing its balance sheet strength, but the other data-points we considered were relatively redeeming. For example its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was refreshing. We think that Santacruz Silver Mining's debt does make it a bit risky, after considering the aforementioned data points together. 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. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Santacruz Silver Mining that you should be aware of before investing here.
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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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.
Find out whether Santacruz Silver Mining 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.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
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Santacruz Silver Mining Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, and operation of mineral properties in Mexico.
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.
Good value with mediocre balance sheet.
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.
Santacruz Silver Mining Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, and operation of mineral properties in Mexico.
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.
Good value with mediocre balance sheet.
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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