Is Raytheon Technologies (NYSE:RTX) Using Too Much Debt?
The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' 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. Importantly, Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE:RTX) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
When Is Debt A Problem?
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. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. Of course, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.
View our latest analysis for Raytheon Technologies
What Is Raytheon Technologies's Debt?
As you can see below, Raytheon Technologies had US$31.8b of debt, at December 2022, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. However, it does have US$6.22b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$25.6b.
A Look At Raytheon Technologies' Liabilities
The latest balance sheet data shows that Raytheon Technologies had liabilities of US$39.1b due within a year, and liabilities of US$45.5b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had US$6.22b in cash and US$20.6b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$57.8b.
This deficit isn't so bad because Raytheon Technologies is worth a massive US$141.1b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.
In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).
Raytheon Technologies has net debt worth 2.3 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 5.9 times the interest expense. While that doesn't worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. If Raytheon Technologies can keep growing EBIT at last year's rate of 11% over the last year, then it will find its debt load easier to manage. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Raytheon Technologies can strengthen its balance sheet over time. 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 clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Raytheon Technologies recorded free cash flow worth 68% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.
On our analysis Raytheon Technologies's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow should signal that it won't have too much trouble with its debt. However, our other observations weren't so heartening. For instance it seems like it has to struggle a bit to handle its total liabilities. Considering this range of data points, we think Raytheon Technologies is in a good position to manage its debt levels. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Raytheon Technologies you should know about.
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.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.
Join A Paid User Research Session
You’ll receive a US$30 Amazon Gift card for 1 hour of your time while helping us build better investing tools for the individual investors like yourself. Sign up here