Stock Analysis

We Think Upland Software (NASDAQ:UPLD) Has A Fair Chunk Of Debt

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NasdaqGM:UPLD
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The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. We can see that Upland Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:UPLD) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. Of course, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Upland Software

What Is Upland Software's Debt?

As you can see below, Upland Software had US$535.4m of debt, at March 2021, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, it also had US$186.7m in cash, and so its net debt is US$348.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGM:UPLD Debt to Equity History August 5th 2021

How Healthy Is Upland Software's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Upland Software had liabilities of US$147.2m due within a year, and liabilities of US$570.2m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had US$186.7m in cash and US$48.6m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$482.2m.

This deficit isn't so bad because Upland Software is worth US$1.05b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off 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 Upland Software'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.

Over 12 months, Upland Software reported revenue of US$298m, which is a gain of 23%, although it did not report any earnings before interest and tax. With any luck the company will be able to grow its way to profitability.

Caveat Emptor

Despite the top line growth, Upland Software still had an earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss over the last year. Indeed, it lost US$4.5m at the EBIT level. When we look at that and recall the liabilities on its balance sheet, relative to cash, it seems unwise to us for the company to have any debt. So we think its balance sheet is a little strained, though not beyond repair. For example, we would not want to see a repeat of last year's loss of US$52m. So we do think this stock is quite risky. 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. For instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for Upland Software that you should be aware of.

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.

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What are the risks and opportunities for Upland Software?

Upland Software, Inc. provides cloud-based enterprise work management software in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and internationally.

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Rewards

  • Trading at 33.9% below our estimate of its fair value

Risks

  • Shareholders have been diluted in the past year

  • Currently unprofitable and not forecast to become profitable over the next 3 years

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