These 4 Measures Indicate That Bio-Techne (NASDAQ:TECH) Is Using Debt Safely

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 25, 2021
NasdaqGS:TECH
Source: Shutterstock

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 Bio-Techne Corporation (NASDAQ:TECH) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Bio-Techne

What Is Bio-Techne's Net Debt?

As you can see below, Bio-Techne had US$306.6m of debt at September 2021, down from US$338.2m a year prior. However, it does have US$235.1m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$71.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:TECH Debt to Equity History November 26th 2021

How Strong Is Bio-Techne's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Bio-Techne had liabilities of US$134.0m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$489.2m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$235.1m and US$147.5m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$240.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This state of affairs indicates that Bio-Techne's balance sheet looks quite solid, as its total liabilities are just about equal to its liquid assets. So while it's hard to imagine that the US$18.7b company is struggling for cash, we still think it's worth monitoring its balance sheet. But either way, Bio-Techne has virtually no net debt, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Bio-Techne has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.23. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 21.0 times the size. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. On top of that, Bio-Techne grew its EBIT by 57% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its 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 Bio-Techne'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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Bio-Techne actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

Happily, Bio-Techne's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is also very heartening. We think Bio-Techne is no more beholden to its lenders, than the birds are to birdwatchers. To our minds it has a healthy happy balance sheet. 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. For instance, we've identified 3 warning signs for Bio-Techne that you should be aware of.

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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