Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Linamar (TSE:LNR) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well

  •  Updated
TSX:LNR
Source: Shutterstock

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. We can see that Linamar Corporation (TSE:LNR) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Linamar

What Is Linamar's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Linamar had CA$710.7m of debt in March 2022, down from CA$915.5m, one year before. But it also has CA$903.9m in cash to offset that, meaning it has CA$193.3m net cash.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:LNR Debt to Equity History May 24th 2022

A Look At Linamar's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Linamar had liabilities of CA$2.09b due within 12 months and liabilities of CA$846.5m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of CA$903.9m and CA$1.06b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total CA$965.0m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Linamar has a market capitalization of CA$3.34b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt. While it does have liabilities worth noting, Linamar also has more cash than debt, so we're pretty confident it can manage its debt safely.

But the bad news is that Linamar has seen its EBIT plunge 16% in the last twelve months. If that rate of decline in earnings continues, the company could find itself in a tight spot. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Linamar's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. While Linamar has net cash on its balance sheet, it's still worth taking a look at its ability to convert earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, to help us understand how quickly it is building (or eroding) that cash balance. Over the last three years, Linamar actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Summing up

Although Linamar's balance sheet isn't particularly strong, due to the total liabilities, it is clearly positive to see that it has net cash of CA$193.3m. The cherry on top was that in converted 148% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in CA$466m. So we are not troubled with Linamar's debt use. 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. Be aware that Linamar is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those shouldn't be ignored...

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.

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

Find out whether Linamar 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.

View the Free Analysis