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Still, my concern remains. Doing the ratio right, cash/LT-debt went from a ratio of roughly 1.84:1 to
1.03:1 -- not the right direction, by any means.


The comfort here, however, is the use of funds. Check out, when available, the Statement of Cash Flows. This breaks out all of the uses and sources of cash eventually showing the change from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Under "financing" and "investing" activities you will find very useful information in passing judgement on the downward shift. One should avoid making a conjecture in financial analysis. Share buybacks, in essence, are the anti-split,and are considered to be Foolish. All things being equal, your EPS goes up, which translates into appreciation assuming the P/E ratio is fairly constant. New construction in facilities (they also bought land, I believe)can have a similar effect as R&D; it will eventually create revenues and resultant earnings (we hope!). With this said, it's always nicer when buybacks and construction can be funded via operations,which you see quite frequently in the tech. industry. Retail, however, is a different animal.
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