Bandwidth (NASDAQ:BAND) Has A Somewhat Strained Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 27, 2021
NasdaqGS:BAND
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. Importantly, Bandwidth Inc. (NASDAQ:BAND) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Bandwidth

What Is Bandwidth's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of June 2021 Bandwidth had US$472.0m of debt, an increase on US$272.9m, over one year. However, it does have US$309.6m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$162.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:BAND Debt to Equity History September 27th 2021

How Healthy Is Bandwidth's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Bandwidth had liabilities of US$92.3m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$557.1m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$309.6m as well as receivables valued at US$63.1m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$276.7m.

Given Bandwidth has a market capitalization of US$2.48b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse.

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.

Bandwidth shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (5.4), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 0.16 times the interest expense. The debt burden here is substantial. However, the silver lining was that Bandwidth achieved a positive EBIT of US$3.4m in the last twelve months, an improvement on the prior year's loss. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Bandwidth can strengthen its balance sheet over time. 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 it's worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. During the last year, Bandwidth burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

To be frank both Bandwidth's interest cover and its track record of converting EBIT to free cash flow make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least it's pretty decent at staying on top of its total liabilities; that's encouraging. Looking at the bigger picture, it seems clear to us that Bandwidth's use of debt is creating risks for the company. If everything goes well that may pay off but the downside of this debt is a greater risk of permanent losses. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for Bandwidth you should be aware of, and 1 of them is significant.

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.

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.

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Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.