Stock Analysis

Is Titan Machinery (NASDAQ:TITN) Using Too Much Debt?

NasdaqGS:TITN
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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 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 Titan Machinery Inc. (NASDAQ:TITN) 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Titan Machinery

What Is Titan Machinery's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of October 2022 Titan Machinery had US$359.5m of debt, an increase on US$237.6m, over one year. On the flip side, it has US$45.9m in cash leading to net debt of about US$313.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:TITN Debt to Equity History January 11th 2023

A Look At Titan Machinery's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Titan Machinery had liabilities of US$462.7m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$150.8m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$45.9m in cash and US$111.8m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$455.8m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Titan Machinery has a market capitalization of US$952.4m, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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

We'd say that Titan Machinery's moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 1.9), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its commanding EBIT of 24.0 times its interest expense, implies the debt load is as light as a peacock feather. Pleasingly, Titan Machinery is growing its EBIT faster than former Australian PM Bob Hawke downs a yard glass, boasting a 106% gain in the last twelve months. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Titan Machinery 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 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, Titan Machinery recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 100% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.

Our View

The good news is that Titan Machinery's demonstrated ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. But, on a more sombre note, we are a little concerned by its level of total liabilities. Zooming out, Titan Machinery seems to use debt quite reasonably; and that gets the nod from us. After all, sensible leverage can boost returns on equity. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Titan Machinery (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

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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.