Stock Analysis

Here's Why CSP (NASDAQ:CSPI) Can Manage Its Debt Responsibly

NasdaqGM:CSPI
Source: Shutterstock

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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. Importantly, CSP Inc. (NASDAQ:CSPI) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

Check out our latest analysis for CSP

How Much Debt Does CSP Carry?

As you can see below, CSP had US$1.78m of debt at March 2023, down from US$1.91m a year prior. However, it does have US$16.8m in cash offsetting this, leading to net cash of US$15.1m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGM:CSPI Debt to Equity History May 26th 2023

How Strong Is CSP's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, CSP had liabilities of US$19.5m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$5.06m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$16.8m as well as receivables valued at US$25.3m due within 12 months. So it can boast US$17.5m more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This excess liquidity is a great indication that CSP's balance sheet is almost as strong as Fort Knox. With this in mind one could posit that its balance sheet means the company is able to handle some adversity. Succinctly put, CSP boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

It was also good to see that despite losing money on the EBIT line last year, CSP turned things around in the last 12 months, delivering and EBIT of US$2.0m. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since CSP will need earnings to service that debt. 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. CSP may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. During the last year, CSP burned a lot of cash. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.

Summing Up

While it is always sensible to investigate a company's debt, in this case CSP has US$15.1m in net cash and a decent-looking balance sheet. So we are not troubled with CSP's debt use. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for CSP you should be aware of, and 1 of them shouldn't be ignored.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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

Find out whether CSP 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.

View the Free Analysis

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

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.