David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. Importantly, Superactive Group Company Limited (HKG:176) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
When Is Debt A Problem?
Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.
What Is Superactive Group's Net Debt?
As you can see below, Superactive Group had HK$515.3m of debt, at December 2021, which is about the same as the year before. You can click the chart for greater detail. And it doesn't have much cash, so its net debt is about the same.
How Healthy Is Superactive Group's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Superactive Group had liabilities of HK$595.8m due within a year, and liabilities of HK$232.5m falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had HK$5.69m in cash and HK$215.8m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by HK$606.8m.
The deficiency here weighs heavily on the HK$119.9m company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. After all, Superactive Group would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is Superactive Group's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.
In the last year Superactive Group wasn't profitable at an EBIT level, but managed to grow its revenue by 31%, to HK$132m. With any luck the company will be able to grow its way to profitability.
While we can certainly appreciate Superactive Group's revenue growth, its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss is not ideal. Its EBIT loss was a whopping HK$34m. Combining this information with the significant liabilities we already touched on makes us very hesitant about this stock, to say the least. That said, it is possible that the company will turn its fortunes around. Nevertheless, we would not bet on it given that it lost HK$80m in just last twelve months, and it doesn't have much by way of liquid assets. So while it's not wise to assume the company will fail, we do think it's risky. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for Superactive Group you should be aware of, and 1 of them can't be ignored.
At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.
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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.