Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) Could Easily Take On More Debt

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 25, 2021
NasdaqGS:LRCX
Source: Shutterstock

David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the 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, Lam Research Corporation (NASDAQ:LRCX) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. 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 Lam Research

How Much Debt Does Lam Research Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Lam Research had US$5.00b of debt in September 2021, down from US$5.78b, one year before. On the flip side, it has US$4.61b in cash leading to net debt of about US$383.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:LRCX Debt to Equity History October 25th 2021

A Look At Lam Research's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Lam Research had liabilities of US$3.41b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$6.34b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$4.61b in cash and US$3.40b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$1.74b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Since publicly traded Lam Research shares are worth a very impressive total of US$78.4b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward. But either way, Lam Research has virtually no net debt, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Lam Research has very little debt (net of cash), and boasts a debt to EBITDA ratio of 0.074 and EBIT of 25.9 times the interest expense. So relative to past earnings, the debt load seems trivial. In addition to that, we're happy to report that Lam Research has boosted its EBIT by 58%, thus reducing the spectre of future debt repayments. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Lam Research 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. During the last three years, Lam Research produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 74% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

The good news is that Lam Research's demonstrated ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its EBIT growth rate is also very heartening. We think Lam Research is no more beholden to its lenders, than the birds are to birdwatchers. For investing nerds like us its balance sheet is almost charming. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Lam Research (including 1 which is a bit unpleasant) .

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.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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Simply Wall St

Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.