Does Oshkosh (NYSE:OSK) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, ‘The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about… and every practical investor I know worries about.’ 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. As with many other companies Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of ‘creative destruction’ where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, 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. When we think about a company’s use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Oshkosh

What Is Oshkosh’s Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at March 2024 Oshkosh had debt of US$1.24b, up from US$597.3m in one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$69.9m, its net debt is less, at about US$1.17b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:OSK Debt to Equity History June 5th 2024

How Healthy Is Oshkosh’s Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Oshkosh had liabilities of US$3.32b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$2.33b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of US$69.9m and US$2.36b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$3.21b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Oshkosh has a market capitalization of US$7.29b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Oshkosh’s net debt is only 1.0 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 14.6 times over. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. Even more impressive was the fact that Oshkosh grew its EBIT by 105% over twelve months. That boost will make it even easier to pay down debt going forward. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Oshkosh 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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don’t cut it. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. In the last three years, Oshkosh’s free cash flow amounted to 21% of its EBIT, less than we’d expect. That’s not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

Oshkosh’s interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14’s goalkeeper. But truth be told we feel its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow does undermine this impression a bit. All these things considered, it appears that Oshkosh can comfortably handle its current debt levels. 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. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we’ve spotted 2 warning signs for Oshkosh (of which 1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) you should know about.

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.

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

Find out whether Oshkosh 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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