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<<ASTE's total debt to equity ratio is 0.38. Is that considered a high level? I don't have a frame of reference for evaluating that.>>

The total debt to equity ratio is important, but I think the LTD to Equity ratio is a little more illustrative of the potential "problem".

Fools Requirement: 0.00
ASTE 0.37
Industry 0.72
Sector 0.81
S&P 500 0.69

The short term portion of the "total" debt to equity is difficult to anaylise becase it includes quick payables, when there may be sizable cash to absorb. In my opinion, LTD/Equity provides a better apples to apples comparison.

As set out above, ASTE is actually quite good compared to an "average" company. Should interest rates increase, or the market pull-back, it will be postured quite well compared to "average" companies.

However, my understanding of the Fool's philosophy on small-cap growth companies is that no LTD provides a company the ability to finance rapid growth through NEW debt should the opportunity arise. In short, ASTE has already used up $54 millon of its purchasing/financing opportunity. This rapid growth opportunity has already been utilized.

Given Congresses continued increase in road funds, and ASTE's position in the marketplace, I think it will continue to have superior growth.

However, I do not think that you will see exponential growth that we often hope for with Foolish companies.

FYI, the Total Debt/Equity ratios are as follows: .38 (ASTE); .87(Industry); 1.05 (Sector); and 1.00 (S&P 500).

Cheers,

Matt

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