Open Text (NASDAQ:OTEX) Has A Pretty Healthy Balance Sheet

Warren Buffett famously said, ‘Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.’ So it seems the smart money knows that debt – which is usually involved in bankruptcies – is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. As with many other companies Open Text Corporation (NASDAQ:OTEX) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of ‘creative destruction’ where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company’s debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Open Text

How Much Debt Does Open Text Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2023 Open Text had US$8.52b of debt, an increase on US$5.20b, over one year. However, it also had US$1.01b in cash, and so its net debt is US$7.51b.

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NasdaqGS:OTEX Debt to Equity History March 22nd 2024

How Healthy Is Open Text’s Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Open Text had liabilities of US$2.96b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$9.45b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$1.01b in cash and US$814.3m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$10.6b.

When you consider that this deficiency exceeds the company’s huge US$10.5b market capitalization, you might well be inclined to review the balance sheet intently. Hypothetically, extremely heavy dilution would be required if the company were forced to pay down its liabilities by raising capital at the current share price.

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.

Open Text shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (5.2), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 1.7 times the interest expense. This means we’d consider it to have a heavy debt load. On the other hand, Open Text grew its EBIT by 30% in the last year. If sustained, this growth should make that debt evaporate like a scarce drinking water during an unnaturally hot summer. 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 Open Text 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, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don’t cut it. So it’s worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Open Text generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 98% of its EBIT, more than we’d expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Our View

Open Text’s conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was a real positive on this analysis, as was its EBIT growth rate. In contrast, our confidence was undermined by its apparent struggle to cover its interest expense with its EBIT. Looking at all this data makes us feel a little cautious about Open Text’s debt levels. While debt does have its upside in higher potential returns, we think shareholders should definitely consider how debt levels might make the stock more risky. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Case in point: We’ve spotted 5 warning signs for Open Text you should be aware of, and 1 of them doesn’t sit too well with us.

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.

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

Find out whether Open Text 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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