Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. We can see that Citrix Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CTXS) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
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 usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. 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 examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
What Is Citrix Systems's Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at September 2020 Citrix Systems had debt of US$1.68b, up from US$742.7m in one year. On the flip side, it has US$924.8m in cash leading to net debt of about US$757.7m.
A Look At Citrix Systems's Liabilities
We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Citrix Systems had liabilities of US$1.92b falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$2.62b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$924.8m and US$586.9m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling US$3.03b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
Citrix Systems has a very large market capitalization of US$14.9b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.
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.
Citrix Systems has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.95. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 13.2 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. Also positive, Citrix Systems grew its EBIT by 21% in the last year, and that should make it easier to pay down debt, going forward. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Citrix Systems's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. 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. Over the last three years, Citrix Systems actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.
The good news is that Citrix Systems'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 conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is also very heartening. Looking at the bigger picture, we think Citrix Systems's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. After all, sensible leverage can boost returns on equity. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Citrix Systems you should know about.
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.
When trading Citrix Systems or any other investment, use the platform considered by many to be the Professional's Gateway to the Worlds Market, Interactive Brokers. You get the lowest-cost* trading on stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org.