Stock Analysis

Here's Why Formula Systems (1985) (TLV:FORTY) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

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Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. We can see that Formula Systems (1985) Ltd. (TLV:FORTY) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. 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, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for Formula Systems (1985)

What Is Formula Systems (1985)'s Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Formula Systems (1985) had debt of US$541.3m at the end of December 2023, a reduction from US$647.7m over a year. On the flip side, it has US$528.6m in cash leading to net debt of about US$12.7m.

TASE:FORTY Debt to Equity History April 16th 2024

How Healthy Is Formula Systems (1985)'s Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Formula Systems (1985) had liabilities of US$987.8m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$519.1m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$528.6m in cash and US$721.0m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$257.3m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Formula Systems (1985) has a market capitalization of US$1.17b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt. But either way, Formula Systems (1985) has virtually no net debt, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

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.

Formula Systems (1985)'s debt of just 0.044 times EBITDA is really very modest. And this impression is enhanced by its strong EBIT which covers interest costs 8.4 times. The good news is that Formula Systems (1985) has increased its EBIT by 3.0% over twelve months, which should ease any concerns about debt repayment. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is Formula Systems (1985)'s earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

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. During the last three years, Formula Systems (1985) produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 56% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

Formula Systems (1985)'s net debt to EBITDA suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And we also thought its interest cover was a positive. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Formula Systems (1985) 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. Over time, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, so if you're interested in Formula Systems (1985), you may well want to click here to check an interactive graph of its earnings per share history.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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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.


Formula Systems (1985)

Through its subsidiaries, provides proprietary and non-proprietary software solutions, IT professional services, software product marketing and support, computer infrastructure and integration solutions, and learning and integration worldwide.

Flawless balance sheet second-rate dividend payer.