These 4 metrics show that Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) is using debt safely

Warren Buffett said: “Volatility is far from synonymous with risk. So it seems smart money knows that debt – which is usually involved in bankruptcies – is a very important factor when you’re assessing a company’s risk. Like many other companies Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADSK) uses debt. But should shareholders worry about its use of debt?

What risk does debt carry?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is unable to repay its lenders, it exists at their mercy. In the worst case, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. Although not too common, we often see companies in debt permanently diluting their shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a ridiculous price. By replacing dilution, however, debt can be a great tool for companies that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. When we look at debt levels, we first consider cash and debt levels, together.

Check out our latest analysis for Autodesk

What is Autodesk’s debt?

The image below, which you can click on for more details, shows that in April 2022 Autodesk had $2.63 billion in debt, up from $1.64 billion in one year. However, he also had $1.59 billion in cash, so his net debt is $1.04 billion.

NasdaqGS: ADSK Debt to Equity History June 18, 2022

How healthy is Autodesk’s balance sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows Autodesk had $3.80 billion in liabilities due within the year, and $3.78 billion in liabilities due thereafter. As compensation for these obligations, it had cash of US$1.59 billion as well as receivables valued at US$384.0 million due within 12 months. It therefore has liabilities totaling $5.61 billion more than its cash and short-term receivables, combined.

Of course, Autodesk has a titanic market capitalization of US$35.7 billion, so those liabilities are probably manageable. That said, it is clear that we must continue to monitor its record, lest it deteriorate.

We use two main ratios to inform us about debt to earnings levels. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how often its earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interests, for short). Thus, we consider debt to earnings with and without amortization and depreciation expense.

With net debt of just 1.2 times EBITDA, Autodesk is arguably quite conservative. And it has interest coverage of 9.7 times, which is more than enough. Another good sign, Autodesk was able to increase its EBIT by 25% in twelve months, thus facilitating the repayment of its debt. When analyzing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious starting point. But ultimately, the company’s future profitability will decide whether Autodesk can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you are focused on the future, you can check out this free report showing analyst earnings forecast.

Finally, a company can only repay its debts with cold hard cash, not with book profits. We therefore always check how much of this EBIT is converted into free cash flow. Over the past three years, Autodesk has actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. There’s nothing better than incoming money to stay in the good books of your lenders.

Our point of view

The good news is that Autodesk’s demonstrated ability to convert EBIT into free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. And the good news does not stop there, since its EBIT growth rate also confirms this impression! Zooming out, Autodesk seems to be using debt quite sensibly; and that gets the green light from us. Although debt carries risks, when used wisely, it can also generate a higher return on equity. There is no doubt that we learn the most about debt from the balance sheet. But at the end of the day, every business can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example – Autodesk has 4 warning signs we think you should know.

If you are interested in investing in companies that can generate profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing companies that have net cash on the balance sheet.

This Simply Wall St article is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It is not a recommendation to buy or sell stocks and does not take into account your objectives or financial situation. Our goal is to bring you targeted long-term analysis based on fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not take into account the latest announcements from price-sensitive companies or qualitative materials. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

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