Stock Analysis

Does Finning International (TSE:FTT) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

TSX:FTT
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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 Finning International Inc. (TSE:FTT) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

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How Much Debt Does Finning International Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2022 Finning International had CA$2.00b of debt, an increase on CA$1.49b, over one year. On the flip side, it has CA$288.0m in cash leading to net debt of about CA$1.71b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:FTT Debt to Equity History April 4th 2023

A Look At Finning International's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Finning International had liabilities of CA$3.40b due within 12 months, and liabilities of CA$1.41b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of CA$288.0m as well as receivables valued at CA$1.76b due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling CA$2.76b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Finning International has a market capitalization of CA$5.22b, 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.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Finning International's net debt of 1.8 times EBITDA suggests graceful use of debt. And the alluring interest cover (EBIT of 9.3 times interest expense) certainly does not do anything to dispel this impression. It is well worth noting that Finning International's EBIT shot up like bamboo after rain, gaining 43% in the last twelve months. That'll make it easier to manage its debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Finning International 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.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Finning International recorded free cash flow worth 59% 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.

Our View

Happily, Finning International's impressive EBIT growth rate implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But truth be told we feel its level of total liabilities does undermine this impression a bit. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Finning International can handle its debt fairly comfortably. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Finning International (of which 1 can't be ignored!) you should know about.

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.

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

Find out whether Finning International 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.

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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.