November 26, 2022

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. We can see that Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
View our latest analysis for Lockheed Martin
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Lockheed Martin had US$11.6b of debt in June 2022, down from US$12.2b, one year before. However, it also had US$1.78b in cash, and so its net debt is US$9.87b.
According to the last reported balance sheet, Lockheed Martin had liabilities of US$16.5b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$23.8b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of US$1.78b and US$15.2b worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling US$23.4b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
Lockheed Martin has a very large market capitalization of US$106.1b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.
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.
Lockheed Martin has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 1.4. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 10.6 times over. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. The modesty of its debt load may become crucial for Lockheed Martin if management cannot prevent a repeat of the 34% cut to EBIT over the last year. Falling earnings (if the trend continues) could eventually make even modest debt quite risky. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Lockheed Martin'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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, Lockheed Martin recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 83% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.
Lockheed Martin's EBIT growth rate was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered were considerably better. In particular, we are dazzled with its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. Considering this range of data points, we think Lockheed Martin is in a good position to manage its debt levels. But a word of caution: we think debt levels are high enough to justify ongoing monitoring. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. We've identified 3 warning signs with Lockheed Martin , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.
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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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Lockheed Martin Corporation, a security and aerospace company, engages in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of technology systems, products, and services worldwide.
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.
Established dividend payer and good value.
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.
Lockheed Martin Corporation, a security and aerospace company, engages in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of technology systems, products, and services worldwide.
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.
Established dividend payer and good value.
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