Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' 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. As with many other companies OSI Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:OSIS) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
What Risk Does Debt Bring?
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. 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. 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 OSI Systems's Debt?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2021 OSI Systems had US$369.5m of debt, an increase on US$290.6m, over one year. On the flip side, it has US$86.3m in cash leading to net debt of about US$283.1m.
How Healthy Is OSI Systems' Balance Sheet?
According to the last reported balance sheet, OSI Systems had liabilities of US$694.5m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$128.5m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$86.3m as well as receivables valued at US$288.0m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$448.6m.
This deficit isn't so bad because OSI Systems is worth US$1.37b, 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.
We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
With a debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.8, OSI Systems uses debt artfully but responsibly. And the fact that its trailing twelve months of EBIT was 9.5 times its interest expenses harmonizes with that theme. OSI Systems grew its EBIT by 4.2% in the last year. That's far from incredible but it is a good thing, when it comes to paying 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 OSI 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 clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. During the last three years, OSI Systems produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 73% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.
The good news is that OSI Systems's demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its interest cover is also very heartening. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that OSI Systems can handle its debt fairly comfortably. Of course, while this leverage can enhance returns on equity, it does bring more risk, so it's worth keeping an eye on this one. 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 example - OSI Systems has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
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.
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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.