May 23, 2024

The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a 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 International Game Technology PLC (NYSE:IGT) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
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 frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
See our latest analysis for International Game Technology
As you can see below, International Game Technology had US$6.45b of debt at June 2022, down from US$6.96b a year prior. On the flip side, it has US$673.0m in cash leading to net debt of about US$5.78b.
According to the last reported balance sheet, International Game Technology had liabilities of US$1.82b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$7.34b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$673.0m in cash and US$833.0m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$7.65b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This deficit casts a shadow over the US$3.56b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. After all, International Game Technology would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.
We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.
International Game Technology's debt is 4.2 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 2.8 times over. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. On the other hand, International Game Technology grew its EBIT by 29% 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 it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine International Game Technology'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 it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the last three years, International Game Technology actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.
We feel some trepidation about International Game Technology's difficulty level of total liabilities, but we've got positives to focus on, too. To wit both its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and EBIT growth rate were encouraging signs. When we consider all the factors discussed, it seems to us that International Game Technology is taking some risks with its use of debt. While that debt can boost returns, we think the company has enough leverage now. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for International Game Technology (of which 1 is a bit unpleasant!) 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.
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.
Find out whether International Game Technology 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.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.
International Game Technology PLC operates and provides gaming technology products and services in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
Fair value second-rate dividend payer.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.
International Game Technology PLC operates and provides gaming technology products and services in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
Fair value second-rate dividend payer.
Simply Wall Street Pty Ltd (ACN 600 056 611), is a Corporate Authorised Representative (Authorised Representative Number: 467183) of Sanlam Private Wealth Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 337927). Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should not rely on any advice and/or information contained in this website and before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice. Please read our Financial Services Guide before deciding whether to obtain financial services from us.

source

About Author

Leave a Reply