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How Financially Strong Is IQE plc (LON:IQE)?

Lester Strauss

IQE plc (LON:IQE), which has zero-debt on its balance sheet, can maximize capital returns by increasing debt due to its lower cost of capital. However, the trade-off is IQE will have to follow strict debt obligations which will reduce its financial flexibility. While zero-debt makes the due diligence for potential investors less nerve-racking, it poses a new question: how should they assess the financial strength of such companies? I will take you through a few basic checks to assess the financial health of companies with no debt.

Check out our latest analysis for IQE

Does IQE’s growth rate justify its decision for financial flexibility over lower cost of capital?

Debt capital generally has lower cost of capital compared to equity funding. However, the trade-off is debtholders’ higher claim on company assets in the event of liquidation and stringent obligations around capital management. IQE’s absence of debt on its balance sheet may be due to lack of access to cheaper capital, or it may simply believe low cost is not worth sacrificing financial flexibility. However, choosing flexibility over capital returns is logical only if it’s a high-growth company. IQE’s revenue growth in the teens of 12.2% is not considered as high-growth, especially for a small-cap company. While its low growth hardly justifies opting for zero-debt, the company may have high growth projects in the pipeline to justify the trade-off.

AIM:IQE Historical Debt September 13th 18

Does IQE’s liquid assets cover its short-term commitments?

Given zero long-term debt on its balance sheet, IQE has no solvency issues, which is used to describe the company’s ability to meet its long-term obligations. However, another measure of financial health is its short-term obligations, which is known as liquidity. These include payments to suppliers, employees and other stakeholders. Looking at IQE’s most recent UK£62.9m liabilities, it appears that the company has been able to meet these obligations given the level of current assets of UK£116.7m, with a current ratio of 1.85x. Usually, for Semiconductor companies, this is a suitable ratio as there’s enough of a cash buffer without holding too capital in low return investments.

Next Steps:

IQE is a fast-growing firm, which supports having have zero-debt and financial freedom to continue to ramp up growth. This may mean this is an optimal capital structure for the business, given that it is also meeting its short-term commitment. In the future, its financial position may change. I admit this is a fairly basic analysis for IQE’s financial health. Other important fundamentals need to be considered alongside. I suggest you continue to research IQE to get a more holistic view of the stock by looking at:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for IQE’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for IQE’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is IQE worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether IQE is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.