- United States
- Commercial Services
Does Cintas (NASDAQ:CTAS) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?
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.' 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. We can see that Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS) does use debt in its business. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
When Is Debt A Problem?
Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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.
View our latest analysis for Cintas
What Is Cintas's Debt?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of November 2022 Cintas had US$2.92b of debt, an increase on US$2.53b, over one year. However, it does have US$89.8m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$2.83b.
How Strong Is Cintas' Balance Sheet?
We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Cintas had liabilities of US$1.55b falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$3.44b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$89.8m and US$1.15b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$3.76b.
Given Cintas has a humongous market capitalization of US$43.9b, 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.
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.
Cintas's net debt is only 1.4 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 16.8 times the size. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. Also good is that Cintas grew its EBIT at 16% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage 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 Cintas'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 company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the last three years, Cintas recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 82% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.
The good news is that Cintas's demonstrated ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And the good news does not stop there, as its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow also supports that impression! Looking at the bigger picture, we think Cintas's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. After all, sensible leverage can boost returns on equity. 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. We've identified 2 warning signs with Cintas , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
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.
Cintas Corporation provides corporate identity uniforms and related business services primarily in the United States, Canada, and Latin America.
Adequate balance sheet average dividend payer.