Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Celestica (TSE:CLS) Is Using Debt Reasonably Well

TSX:CLS
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Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. 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 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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. 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.

Our analysis indicates that CLS is potentially undervalued!

How Much Debt Does Celestica Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of September 2022 Celestica had US$642.8m of debt, an increase on US$444.9m, over one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$363.3m, its net debt is less, at about US$279.5m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:CLS Debt to Equity History November 11th 2022

A Look At Celestica's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Celestica had liabilities of US$2.85b due within 12 months and liabilities of US$929.3m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$363.3m in cash and US$1.17b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$2.25b.

This deficit casts a shadow over the US$1.38b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. After all, Celestica would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.

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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 0.79 and interest cover of 5.1 times, it seems to us that Celestica is probably using debt in a pretty reasonable way. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. Importantly, Celestica grew its EBIT by 48% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. 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 want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last three years, Celestica 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.

Our View

Based on what we've seen Celestica is not finding it easy, given its level of total liabilities, but the other factors we considered give us cause to be optimistic. There's no doubt that its ability to to convert EBIT to free cash flow is pretty flash. Looking at all this data makes us feel a little cautious about Celestica's debt levels. While debt does have its upside in higher potential returns, we think shareholders should definitely consider how debt levels might make the stock more risky. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. 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 1 warning sign for Celestica you should know about.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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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.