Stock Analysis

Here's Why Oceaneering International (NYSE:OII) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

NYSE:OII
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Warren Buffett famously said, '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 Oceaneering International, Inc. (NYSE:OII) does use debt in its business. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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 common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Oceaneering International

What Is Oceaneering International's Debt?

As you can see below, Oceaneering International had US$701.3m of debt at September 2022, down from US$740.0m a year prior. However, it also had US$433.9m in cash, and so its net debt is US$267.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:OII Debt to Equity History December 31st 2022

How Healthy Is Oceaneering International's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Oceaneering International had liabilities of US$515.7m due within a year, and liabilities of US$929.8m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$433.9m and US$557.8m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling US$453.8m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This deficit isn't so bad because Oceaneering International is worth US$1.75b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Oceaneering International has a very low debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.5 so it is strange to see weak interest coverage, with last year's EBIT being only 1.6 times the interest expense. So one way or the other, it's clear the debt levels are not trivial. We saw Oceaneering International grow its EBIT by 2.9% in the last twelve months. Whilst that hardly knocks our socks off it is a positive when it comes to 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 Oceaneering International'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.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last two years, Oceaneering International actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

When it comes to the balance sheet, the standout positive for Oceaneering International was the fact that it seems able to convert EBIT to free cash flow confidently. However, our other observations weren't so heartening. To be specific, it seems about as good at covering its interest expense with its EBIT as wet socks are at keeping your feet warm. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that Oceaneering International is managing its debt quite well. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. We'd be motivated to research the stock further if we found out that Oceaneering International insiders have bought shares recently. If you would too, then you're in luck, since today we're sharing our list of reported insider transactions for free.

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Oceaneering International 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.