Does Hexcel (NYSE:HXL) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

Warren Buffett famously said, ‘Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.’ 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, Hexcel Corporation (NYSE:HXL) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. 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 Hexcel

What Is Hexcel’s Net Debt?

As you can see below, Hexcel had US$713.0m of debt at March 2024, down from US$767.1m a year prior. However, it also had US$91.7m in cash, and so its net debt is US$621.3m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:HXL Debt to Equity History May 12th 2024

A Look At Hexcel’s Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Hexcel had liabilities of US$288.6m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$900.5m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of US$91.7m and US$302.2m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$795.2m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Of course, Hexcel has a market capitalization of US$5.99b, 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.

In order to size up a company’s debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Hexcel has net debt worth 1.9 times EBITDA, which isn’t too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 6.6 times the interest expense. While that doesn’t worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. We saw Hexcel grow its EBIT by 5.7% in the last twelve months. 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 ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Hexcel 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.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, Hexcel produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 68% of its EBIT, about what we’d expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

The good news is that Hexcel’s demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And we also thought its interest cover was a positive. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Hexcel can handle its debt fairly comfortably. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it’s worth monitoring the balance sheet. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. For example, we’ve discovered 1 warning sign for Hexcel that you should be aware of before investing here.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don’t even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

Valuation is complex, but we’re helping make it simple.

Find out whether Hexcel is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

View the Free Analysis

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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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