We Think Balchem (NASDAQ:BCPC) Can Stay On Top Of Its Debt

Simply Wall St ·  10/23/2023 21:11

David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' 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, Balchem Corporation (NASDAQ:BCPC) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Balchem

How Much Debt Does Balchem Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Balchem had debt of US$405.6m at the end of June 2023, a reduction from US$433.6m over a year. On the flip side, it has US$66.9m in cash leading to net debt of about US$338.7m.

NasdaqGS:BCPC Debt to Equity History October 23rd 2023

A Look At Balchem's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Balchem had liabilities of US$114.4m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$497.9m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$66.9m and US$125.1m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$420.4m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Given Balchem has a market capitalization of US$3.95b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

With a debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.7, Balchem uses debt artfully but responsibly. And the fact that its trailing twelve months of EBIT was 7.5 times its interest expenses harmonizes with that theme. Balchem'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. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Balchem's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

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. During the last three years, Balchem produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 79% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

Happily, Balchem's impressive conversion of EBIT to free cash flow implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And we also thought its interest cover was a positive. Taking all this data into account, it seems to us that Balchem takes a pretty sensible approach to debt. While that brings some risk, it can also enhance returns for shareholders. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Balchem you should be aware of.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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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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