Does Keysight Technologies (NYSE:KEYS) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 10, 2022
NYSE:KEYS
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.' 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. Importantly, Keysight Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:KEYS) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. 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 thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Keysight Technologies

What Is Keysight Technologies's Debt?

As you can see below, Keysight Technologies had US$1.79b of debt, at January 2022, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. But on the other hand it also has US$1.98b in cash, leading to a US$186.0m net cash position.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:KEYS Debt to Equity History March 10th 2022

How Healthy Is Keysight Technologies' Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Keysight Technologies had liabilities of US$1.26b falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$2.66b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$1.98b and US$708.0m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$1.23b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Since publicly traded Keysight Technologies shares are worth a very impressive total of US$27.5b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse. Despite its noteworthy liabilities, Keysight Technologies boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

In addition to that, we're happy to report that Keysight Technologies has boosted its EBIT by 43%, thus reducing the spectre of future debt repayments. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Keysight Technologies can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. Keysight Technologies may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. Over the last three years, Keysight Technologies actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Summing up

We could understand if investors are concerned about Keysight Technologies's liabilities, but we can be reassured by the fact it has has net cash of US$186.0m. The cherry on top was that in converted 104% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in US$1.1b. So is Keysight Technologies's debt a risk? It doesn't seem so to us. 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 instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Keysight Technologies that 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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