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Is Acushnet Holdings (NYSE:GOLF) Using Too Much Debt?

Simply Wall St ·  Feb 13 05:03

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.' 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. We can see that Acushnet Holdings Corp. (NYSE:GOLF) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. 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.

What Is Acushnet Holdings's Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of September 2023, Acushnet Holdings had US$592.8m of debt, up from US$434.3m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have US$56.1m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$536.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:GOLF Debt to Equity History February 13th 2024

A Look At Acushnet Holdings' Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Acushnet Holdings had liabilities of US$856.2m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$380.5m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$56.1m in cash and US$335.8m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$844.8m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Of course, Acushnet Holdings has a market capitalization of US$4.52b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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

With a debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.5, Acushnet Holdings uses debt artfully but responsibly. And the alluring interest cover (EBIT of 8.9 times interest expense) certainly does not do anything to dispel this impression. In addition to that, we're happy to report that Acushnet Holdings has boosted its EBIT by 30%, thus reducing the spectre of future debt repayments. 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 Acushnet Holdings'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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, Acushnet Holdings recorded free cash flow of 46% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

The good news is that Acushnet Holdings's demonstrated ability to grow its EBIT delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its interest cover is also very heartening. When we consider the range of factors above, it looks like Acushnet Holdings is pretty sensible with its use of debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. We've identified 3 warning signs with Acushnet Holdings (at least 1 which is significant) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

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.

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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