We Think SS&C Technologies Holdings (NASDAQ:SSNC) Can Stay On Top Of Its Debt

SS&C Technologies Holdings, Inc. -0.45%

SS&C Technologies Holdings, Inc.

SSNC

63.72

-0.45%

Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. We note that SS&C Technologies Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:SSNC) does have debt on its balance sheet. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for SS&C Technologies Holdings

What Is SS&C Technologies Holdings's Net Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that SS&C Technologies Holdings had US$6.87b of debt in September 2023, down from US$7.24b, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$447.6m, its net debt is less, at about US$6.42b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:SSNC Debt to Equity History January 30th 2024

How Healthy Is SS&C Technologies Holdings' Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that SS&C Technologies Holdings had liabilities of US$1.99b due within a year, and liabilities of US$7.99b falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$447.6m as well as receivables valued at US$875.8m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling US$8.65b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since SS&C Technologies Holdings has a huge market capitalization of US$15.2b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (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).

SS&C Technologies Holdings's debt is 3.6 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 2.7 times over. Taken together this implies that, while we wouldn't want to see debt levels rise, we think it can handle its current leverage. Fortunately, SS&C Technologies Holdings grew its EBIT by 2.1% in the last year, slowly shrinking its debt relative to earnings. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if SS&C Technologies Holdings 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 always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, SS&C Technologies Holdings recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 91% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.

Our View

When it comes to the balance sheet, the standout positive for SS&C Technologies Holdings was the fact that it seems able to convert EBIT to free cash flow confidently. However, our other observations weren't so heartening. To be specific, it seems about as good at covering its interest expense with its EBIT as wet socks are at keeping your feet warm. Looking at all this data makes us feel a little cautious about SS&C Technologies Holdings's debt levels. While debt does have its upside in higher potential returns, we think shareholders should definitely consider how debt levels might make the stock more risky. 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. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for SS&C Technologies Holdings (1 is significant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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