Stock Analysis

Is Extreme Networks (NASDAQ:EXTR) Using Too Much Debt?

NasdaqGS:EXTR
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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 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. We note that Extreme Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXTR) 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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Extreme Networks

What Is Extreme Networks's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Extreme Networks had US$258.5m of debt in December 2022, down from US$317.3m, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$203.3m, its net debt is less, at about US$55.2m.

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NasdaqGS:EXTR Debt to Equity History March 15th 2023

How Healthy Is Extreme Networks' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Extreme Networks had liabilities of US$529.1m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$448.5m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$203.3m in cash and US$152.1m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$622.2m.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Extreme Networks has a market capitalization of US$2.21b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Looking at its net debt to EBITDA of 0.50 and interest cover of 6.2 times, it seems to us that Extreme Networks is probably using debt in a pretty reasonable way. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. Fortunately, Extreme Networks grew its EBIT by 6.0% in the last year, making that debt load look even more manageable. 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 Extreme Networks'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. Happily for any shareholders, Extreme Networks actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last two years. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

Happily, Extreme Networks's impressive conversion of EBIT to free cash flow implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its net debt to EBITDA is also very heartening. Taking all this data into account, it seems to us that Extreme Networks takes a pretty sensible approach to debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. 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. For example, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Extreme Networks that you should be aware of before investing here.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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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.