Tootsie Roll Industries (NYSE:TR) Has A Rock Solid Balance Sheet

Simply Wall St
January 21, 2022
Source: Shutterstock

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, Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. (NYSE:TR) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free 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. Of course, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for Tootsie Roll Industries

How Much Debt Does Tootsie Roll Industries Carry?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Tootsie Roll Industries had US$8.46m in debt in September 2021; about the same as the year before. But on the other hand it also has US$115.7m in cash, leading to a US$107.2m net cash position.

NYSE:TR Debt to Equity History January 21st 2022

How Strong Is Tootsie Roll Industries' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Tootsie Roll Industries had liabilities of US$94.6m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$164.3m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of US$115.7m and US$83.4m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$59.8m.

Given Tootsie Roll Industries has a market capitalization of US$2.22b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse. Despite its noteworthy liabilities, Tootsie Roll Industries boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

Fortunately, Tootsie Roll Industries grew its EBIT by 4.2% in the last year, making that debt load look even more manageable. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is Tootsie Roll Industries's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. While Tootsie Roll Industries 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. During the last three years, Tootsie Roll Industries generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 86% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Summing up

We could understand if investors are concerned about Tootsie Roll Industries's liabilities, but we can be reassured by the fact it has has net cash of US$107.2m. And it impressed us with free cash flow of US$53m, being 86% of its EBIT. So we don't think Tootsie Roll Industries's use of debt is risky. 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 Tootsie Roll Industries that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

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