September 27, 2022

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. As with many other companies Live Ventures Incorporated (NASDAQ:LIVE) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
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. 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. 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.
See our latest analysis for Live Ventures
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at June 2022 Live Ventures had debt of US$80.9m, up from US$56.9m in one year. On the flip side, it has US$3.63m in cash leading to net debt of about US$77.3m.
We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Live Ventures had liabilities of US$57.2m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$107.6m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$3.63m in cash and US$25.0m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$136.2m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company's US$91.3m market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. 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.
Live Ventures's net debt of 1.9 times EBITDA suggests graceful use of debt. And the alluring interest cover (EBIT of 9.4 times interest expense) certainly does not do anything to dispel this impression. Importantly Live Ventures's EBIT was essentially flat over the last twelve months. Ideally it can diminish its debt load by kick-starting earnings growth. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is Live Ventures's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.
Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Live Ventures recorded free cash flow worth 63% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.
Live Ventures's level of total liabilities was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered cast it in a significantly better light. For example its interest cover was refreshing. Taking the abovementioned factors together we do think Live Ventures's debt poses some risks to the business. While that debt can boost returns, we think the company has enough leverage now. 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. For instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for Live Ventures (3 make us uncomfortable) 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.
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.

Find out whether Live Ventures 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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Live Ventures Incorporated, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the flooring and steel manufacturing, and retail businesses in the United States.
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.
Adequate balance sheet with acceptable track record.
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.
Live Ventures Incorporated, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the flooring and steel manufacturing, and retail businesses in the United States.
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.
Adequate balance sheet with acceptable track record.
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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