Masco (NYSE:MAS) Has A Pretty 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, Masco Corporation (NYSE:MAS) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well – and to its own advantage. When we think about a company’s use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

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How Much Debt Does Masco Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Masco had US$2.93b of debt in December 2023, down from US$3.13b, one year before. On the flip side, it has US$634.0m in cash leading to net debt of about US$2.29b.

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NYSE:MAS Debt to Equity History February 28th 2024

A Look At Masco’s Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Masco had liabilities of US$1.70b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$3.55b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of US$634.0m and US$1.09b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$3.52b.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Masco has a huge market capitalization of US$16.6b, 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.

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). 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).

We’d say that Masco’s moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 1.5), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its strong interest cover of 14.1 times, makes us even more comfortable. Masco’s EBIT was pretty flat over the last year, but that shouldn’t be an issue given the it doesn’t have a lot of 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 Masco’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 company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Masco recorded free cash flow worth 69% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Happily, Masco’s impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And that’s just the beginning of the good news since its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is also very heartening. Taking all this data into account, it seems to us that Masco takes a pretty sensible approach to debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Be aware that Masco is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about…

If you’re interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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

Find out whether Masco 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.

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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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