Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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 Synaptics Incorporated (NASDAQ:SYNA) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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 thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
What Is Synaptics's Net Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at June 2021 Synaptics had debt of US$881.5m, up from US$586.6m in one year. On the flip side, it has US$836.3m in cash leading to net debt of about US$45.2m.
How Strong Is Synaptics' Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Synaptics had liabilities of US$786.7m due within a year, and liabilities of US$472.9m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had US$836.3m in cash and US$230.2m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$193.1m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
Of course, Synaptics has a market capitalization of US$7.34b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward. But either way, Synaptics has virtually no net debt, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!
We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). 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).
While Synaptics's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 0.16 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 5.5 times last year does give us pause. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. It is well worth noting that Synaptics's EBIT shot up like bamboo after rain, gaining 44% in the last twelve months. That'll make it easier to manage its 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 Synaptics 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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Synaptics 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.
The good news is that Synaptics's demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And the good news does not stop there, as its EBIT growth rate also supports that impression! Considering this range of factors, it seems to us that Synaptics is quite prudent with its debt, and the risks seem well managed. So we're not worried about the use of a little leverage on the balance sheet. 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 4 warning signs for Synaptics 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.
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.
If you decide to trade Synaptics, use the lowest-cost* platform that is rated #1 Overall by Barron's, Interactive Brokers. Trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on 135 markets, all from a single integrated account.Promoted