The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.NEW YORK ( MagicDiligence.com) -- Nothing can get a company in trouble faster than excessive debt. Properly utilized, debt can be an excellent way to utilize leverage to magnify the returns of investing retained capital (see this article for a less wonky explanation). So when is debt bad and when is it OK? To start with, there is a very simple strategy: Consider only stocks for companies that carry no debt whatsoever, or have a miniscule percentage of debt-to-cash (less than 5%, for example). There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of American companies that satisfy this requirement. In Magic Formula Investing alone there are dozens, even large-caps like Dolby ( DLB) and Marvell ( MRVL). Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook. This does tend to limit your investing universe, however. In fact, an odd consequence of great business models is that management is often more willing to run aggressive balance sheets, given the stability of cash flows. Let's look briefly at such a case in MFI: Dish Network ( DISH).
Given this, we have reasonable assurance that Dish's cash flows are not going to fall off of a cliff anytime soon. The company generates over $1.3 billion in free cash flow annually, more than enough to cover debt maturities, buy back shares, and pursue growth opportunities. The initial concerns over the balance sheet become less, well, concerning.