Does Viavi Solutions (NASDAQ:VIAV) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 18, 2022
NasdaqGS:VIAV
Source: Shutterstock

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 Viavi Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAV) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Viavi Solutions

What Is Viavi Solutions's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at January 2022 Viavi Solutions had debt of US$755.8m, up from US$628.6m in one year. However, it also had US$733.8m in cash, and so its net debt is US$22.0m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:VIAV Debt to Equity History March 18th 2022

How Strong Is Viavi Solutions' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Viavi Solutions had liabilities of US$285.1m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$959.7m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$733.8m as well as receivables valued at US$285.1m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$225.9m.

Of course, Viavi Solutions has a market capitalization of US$3.68b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse. Carrying virtually no net debt, Viavi Solutions has a very light debt load indeed.

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.

Viavi Solutions's net debt to EBITDA ratio is very low, at 0.088, suggesting the debt is only trivial. But EBIT was only 5.1 times the interest expense last year, so the borrowing is clearly weighing on the business somewhat. Importantly, Viavi Solutions grew its EBIT by 57% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its 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 Viavi Solutions'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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Viavi Solutions actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

Happily, Viavi Solutions'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 EBIT growth rate is also very heartening. Overall, we don't think Viavi Solutions is taking any bad risks, as its debt load seems modest. So we're not worried about the use of a little leverage on the balance sheet. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example - Viavi Solutions has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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