Stock Analysis

We Think Oceaneering International (NYSE:OII) Can Stay On Top Of Its Debt

NYSE:OII
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Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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 Oceaneering International, Inc. (NYSE:OII) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Oceaneering International

What Is Oceaneering International's Debt?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Oceaneering International had US$700.7m in debt in March 2023; about the same as the year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$511.3m, its net debt is less, at about US$189.3m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:OII Debt to Equity History May 2nd 2023

How Strong Is Oceaneering International's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Oceaneering International had liabilities of US$575.2m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$940.9m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$511.3m as well as receivables valued at US$528.3m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$476.5m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Oceaneering International has a market capitalization of US$1.72b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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.

Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 0.74 and interest cover of 4.8 times, it seems to us that Oceaneering International is probably using debt in a pretty reasonable way. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. Pleasingly, Oceaneering International is growing its EBIT faster than former Australian PM Bob Hawke downs a yard glass, boasting a 455% gain in the last twelve months. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Oceaneering International 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, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Oceaneering International actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last two years. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

Oceaneering International's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its EBIT growth rate is also very heartening. Looking at the bigger picture, we think Oceaneering International's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. While debt does bring risk, when used wisely it can also bring a higher return 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Oceaneering International you should know about.

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.

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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.