Stock Analysis

WD-40 (NASDAQ:WDFC) Seems To Use Debt Rather Sparingly

NasdaqGS:WDFC
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Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. We note that WD-40 Company (NASDAQ:WDFC) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for WD-40

What Is WD-40's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that WD-40 had US$115.7m of debt in February 2024, down from US$155.8m, one year before. On the flip side, it has US$55.4m in cash leading to net debt of about US$60.2m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:WDFC Debt to Equity History May 27th 2024

How Healthy Is WD-40's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that WD-40 had liabilities of US$110.4m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$115.3m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$55.4m as well as receivables valued at US$104.8m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$65.5m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Since publicly traded WD-40 shares are worth a total of US$3.13b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.

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.

WD-40's net debt is only 0.58 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 19.5 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. Also good is that WD-40 grew its EBIT at 18% 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 ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if WD-40 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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, WD-40 recorded free cash flow worth 62% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

Happily, WD-40's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And the good news does not stop there, as its net debt to EBITDA also supports that impression! Zooming out, WD-40 seems to use debt quite reasonably; and that gets the nod from us. While debt does bring risk, when used wisely it can also bring a higher return on equity. Above most other metrics, we think its important to track how fast earnings per share is growing, if at all. If you've also come to that realization, you're in luck, because today you can view this interactive graph of WD-40's earnings per share history for free.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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

Find out whether WD-40 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.