Over the past three months, shares of Caterpillar CAT increased by 19.98%. Before having a look at the importance of debt, let us look at how much debt Caterpillar has.
Based on Caterpillar's balance sheet as of February 17, 2021, long-term debt is at $26.00 billion and current debt is at $11.16 billion, amounting to $37.16 billion in total debt. Adjusted for $9.35 billion in cash-equivalents, the company's net debt is at $27.81 billion.
Let's define some of the terms we used in the paragraph above. Current debt is the portion of a company's debt which is due within 1 year, while long-term debt is the portion due in more than 1 year. Cash equivalents include cash and any liquid securities with maturity periods of 90 days or less. Total debt equals current debt plus long-term debt minus cash equivalents.
To understand the degree of financial leverage a company has, investors look at the debt ratio. Considering Caterpillar's $78.32 billion in total assets, the debt-ratio is at 0.47. As a rule of thumb, a debt-ratio more than one indicates that a considerable portion of debt is funded by assets. A higher debt-ratio can also imply that the company might be putting itself at risk for default, if interest rates were to increase. However, debt-ratios vary widely across different industries. A debt ratio of 35% might be higher for one industry and average for another.
Why Investors Look At Debt?
Debt is an important factor in the capital structure of a company, and can help it attain growth. Debt usually has a relatively lower financing cost than equity, which makes it an attractive option for executives.
Interest-payment obligations can impact the cash-flow of the company. Having financial leverage also allows companies to use additional capital for business operations, allowing equity owners to retain excess profit, generated by the debt capital.
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