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Zero-debt allows substantial financial flexibility, especially for small-cap companies like Natural Health Trends Corp. (NASDAQ:NHTC), as the company does not have to adhere to strict debt covenants. However, it also faces higher cost of capital given interest cost is generally lower than equity. Zero-debt can alleviate some risk associated with the company meeting debt obligations, but this doesn’t automatically mean NHTC has outstanding financial strength. I will take you through a few basic checks to assess the financial health of companies with no debt.
Does NHTC’s growth rate justify its decision for financial flexibility over lower cost of capital?
Debt funding can be cheaper than issuing new equity due to lower interest cost on debt. 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. NHTC’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. NHTC delivered a negative revenue growth of -2.9%. While its negative growth hardly justifies opting for zero-debt, if the decline sustains, it may find it hard to raise debt at an acceptable cost.
Does NHTC’s liquid assets cover its short-term commitments?
Since Natural Health Trends 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. 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. At the current liabilities level of US$43m, the company has maintained a safe level of current assets to meet its obligations, with the current ratio last standing at 3.49x. However, many consider a ratio above 3x to be high, although this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Having no debt on the books means NHTC has more financial freedom to keep growing at its current fast rate. 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 be different. This is only a rough assessment of financial health, and I’m sure NHTC has company-specific issues impacting its capital structure decisions. You should continue to research Natural Health Trends to get a more holistic view of the stock by looking at:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for NHTC’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for NHTC’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is NHTC 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 NHTC 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.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.