December 2, 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 note that RBC Bearings Incorporated (NYSE:RBC) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
View our latest analysis for RBC Bearings
As you can see below, at the end of July 2022, RBC Bearings had US$1.57b of debt, up from US$10.8m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have US$119.6m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$1.45b.
Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that RBC Bearings had liabilities of US$330.4m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$2.03b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$119.6m as well as receivables valued at US$239.9m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$2.00b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This deficit isn't so bad because RBC Bearings is worth US$5.96b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up 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.
RBC Bearings's debt is 4.8 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 3.7 times over. Taken together this implies that, while we wouldn't want to see debt levels rise, we think it can handle its current leverage. Looking on the bright side, RBC Bearings boosted its EBIT by a silky 78% in the last year. Like a mother's loving embrace of a newborn that sort of growth builds resilience, putting the company in a stronger position to manage its debt. 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 RBC Bearings'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 we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, RBC Bearings recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 90% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.
The good news is that RBC Bearings's demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. But the stark truth is that we are concerned by its net debt to EBITDA. All these things considered, it appears that RBC Bearings can comfortably handle its current debt levels. Of course, while this leverage can enhance returns on equity, it does bring more risk, so it's worth keeping an eye on this one. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 4 warning signs for RBC Bearings you should be aware of, and 1 of them is potentially serious.
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.
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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.
Find out whether RBC Bearings 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.
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RBC Bearings Incorporated manufactures and markets engineered precision bearings and components in the United States and internationally.
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.
Reasonable growth potential with imperfect balance sheet.
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.
RBC Bearings Incorporated manufactures and markets engineered precision bearings and components in the United States and internationally.
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.
Reasonable growth potential with imperfect balance sheet.
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