Stock Analysis

Is Dongfang Electronics (SZSE:000682) A Risky Investment?

SZSE:000682
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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.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt - which is usually involved in bankruptcies - is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. We note that Dongfang Electronics Co., Ltd. (SZSE:000682) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Dongfang Electronics

How Much Debt Does Dongfang Electronics Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of September 2023, Dongfang Electronics had CN¥308.0m of debt, up from CN¥289.2m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have CN¥2.43b in cash offsetting this, leading to net cash of CN¥2.12b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SZSE:000682 Debt to Equity History March 26th 2024

How Healthy Is Dongfang Electronics' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Dongfang Electronics had liabilities of CN¥5.29b due within 12 months, and liabilities of CN¥168.9m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had CN¥2.43b in cash and CN¥1.76b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CN¥1.28b.

Since publicly traded Dongfang Electronics shares are worth a total of CN¥12.3b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward. Despite its noteworthy liabilities, Dongfang Electronics boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

And we also note warmly that Dongfang Electronics grew its EBIT by 16% last year, making its debt load easier to handle. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Dongfang Electronics can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. Dongfang Electronics may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. During the last three years, Dongfang Electronics generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 84% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Summing Up

Although Dongfang Electronics's balance sheet isn't particularly strong, due to the total liabilities, it is clearly positive to see that it has net cash of CN¥2.12b. The cherry on top was that in converted 84% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in CN¥738m. So is Dongfang Electronics's debt a risk? It doesn't seem so to us. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example - Dongfang Electronics has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Dongfang Electronics is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.