The direct benefit for Weis Markets Inc (NYSE:WMK), which sports a zero-debt capital structure, to include debt in its capital structure is the reduced cost of capital. However, the trade-off is WMK will have to adhere to stricter debt covenants and have less 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 recommend you look at the following hurdles to assess WMK’s financial health.
Is WMK growing fast enough to value financial flexibility over lower cost of capital?
There are well-known benefits of including debt in capital structure, primarily a lower cost of capital. But the downside of having debt in a company’s balance sheet is the debtholder’s higher claim on its assets in the case of liquidation, as well as stricter capital management requirements. Either WMK does not have access to cheap capital, or it may believe this trade-off is not worth it. This makes sense only if the company has a competitive edge and is growing fast off its equity capital. Opposite to the high growth we were expecting, WMK’s negative revenue growth of -0.2% hardly justifies opting for zero-debt. If the decline sustains, it may find it hard to raise debt at an acceptable cost.
Can WMK pay its short-term liabilities?
Since Weis Markets doesn’t have any debt on its balance sheet, it doesn’t have any solvency issues, which is a term used to describe the company’s ability to meet its long-term obligations. But another important aspect of financial health is liquidity: the company’s ability to meet short-term obligations, including payments to suppliers and employees. At the current liabilities level of US$262m, the company has been able to meet these commitments with a current assets level of US$468m, leading to a 1.79x current account ratio. Usually, for Consumer Retailing companies, this is a suitable ratio since there’s a sufficient cash cushion without leaving too much capital idle or in low-earning investments.
WMK 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. Moving forward, its financial position may change. Keep in mind I haven’t considered other factors such as how WMK has been performing in the past. I recommend you continue to research Weis Markets to get a more holistic view of the stock by looking at:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for WMK’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for WMK’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is WMK 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 WMK is currently mispriced by the market.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.