Does Fulgent Genetics (NASDAQ:FLGT) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, ‘The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about… and every practical investor I know worries about.’ When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. As with many other companies Fulgent Genetics, Inc. (NASDAQ:FLGT) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Fulgent Genetics

What Is Fulgent Genetics’s Net Debt?

As you can see below, Fulgent Genetics had US$20.5m of debt, at September 2022, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. But on the other hand it also has US$571.1m in cash, leading to a US$550.6m net cash position.

NasdaqGM:FLGT Debt to Equity History December 28th 2022

How Healthy Is Fulgent Genetics’ Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Fulgent Genetics had liabilities of US$102.5m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$21.9m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$571.1m and US$107.6m worth of receivables due within a year. So it can boast US$554.3m more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This luscious liquidity implies that Fulgent Genetics’ balance sheet is sturdy like a giant sequoia tree. With this in mind one could posit that its balance sheet means the company is able to handle some adversity. Succinctly put, Fulgent Genetics boasts net cash, so it’s fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

It is just as well that Fulgent Genetics’s load is not too heavy, because its EBIT was down 50% over the last year. When it comes to paying off debt, falling earnings are no more useful than sugary sodas are for your health. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analyzing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Fulgent Genetics’s ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. While Fulgent Genetics has net cash on its balance sheet, it’s still worth taking a look at its ability to convert earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, to help us understand how quickly it is building (or eroding) that cash balance. During the last three years, Fulgent Genetics produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 69% of its EBIT, about what we’d expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Summing Up

While we empathize with investors who find debt concerning, you should keep in mind that Fulgent Genetics has net cash of US$550.6m, as well as more liquid assets than liabilities. The cherry on top was that in converted 69% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in US$277m. So is Fulgent Genetics’s debt a risk? It doesn’t seem so to us. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. Case in point: We’ve spotted 3 warning signs for Fulgent Genetics you should be aware of, and 1 of them makes us a bit uncomfortable.

If, after all that, you’re more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

Valuation is complex, but we’re helping make it simple.

Find out whether Fulgent Genetics is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.