Stock Analysis

Does Celestica (TSE:CLS) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

TSX:CLS
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Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. As with many other companies Celestica Inc. (TSE:CLS) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Celestica

What Is Celestica's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Celestica had debt of US$610.7m at the end of September 2023, a reduction from US$642.8m over a year. On the flip side, it has US$353.1m in cash leading to net debt of about US$257.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:CLS Debt to Equity History January 23rd 2024

How Strong Is Celestica's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Celestica had liabilities of US$3.10b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$912.4m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$353.1m in cash and US$1.65b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$2.00b.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Celestica has a market capitalization of US$3.76b, 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.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

While Celestica's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 0.47 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 5.3 times last year does give us pause. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. It is well worth noting that Celestica's EBIT shot up like bamboo after rain, gaining 73% in the last twelve months. That'll make it easier to manage its debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Celestica'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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Celestica recorded free cash flow worth 70% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Celestica's EBIT growth rate suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its level of total liabilities. When we consider the range of factors above, it looks like Celestica is pretty sensible with its use of debt. While that brings some risk, it can also enhance returns for shareholders. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Celestica you should be aware of.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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

Find out whether Celestica 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.