Stock Analysis

Seiko Epson (TSE:6724) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

TSE:6724
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The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' 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. Importantly, Seiko Epson Corporation (TSE:6724) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Seiko Epson

What Is Seiko Epson's Debt?

As you can see below, Seiko Epson had JP¥205.9b of debt at December 2023, down from JP¥224.6b a year prior. But on the other hand it also has JP¥287.0b in cash, leading to a JP¥81.1b net cash position.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSE:6724 Debt to Equity History March 2nd 2024

A Look At Seiko Epson's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Seiko Epson had liabilities of JP¥354.5b due within 12 months and liabilities of JP¥228.1b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of JP¥287.0b and JP¥222.9b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total JP¥72.7b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Given Seiko Epson has a market capitalization of JP¥821.9b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward. Despite its noteworthy liabilities, Seiko Epson boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

In fact Seiko Epson's saving grace is its low debt levels, because its EBIT has tanked 33% in the last twelve months. Falling earnings (if the trend continues) could eventually make even modest debt quite risky. 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 Seiko Epson'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.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. While Seiko Epson 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 most recent three years, Seiko Epson recorded free cash flow worth 64% 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.

Summing Up

While it is always sensible to look at a company's total liabilities, it is very reassuring that Seiko Epson has JP¥81.1b in net cash. So we don't have any problem with Seiko Epson's use of debt. 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. For example, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Seiko Epson that you should be aware of before investing here.

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 Seiko Epson 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.