Is Tian Chang Group Holdings (HKG:2182) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 25, 2021
SEHK:2182
Source: Shutterstock

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.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. We can see that Tian Chang Group Holdings Ltd. (HKG:2182) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for Tian Chang Group Holdings

How Much Debt Does Tian Chang Group Holdings Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at June 2021 Tian Chang Group Holdings had debt of HK$249.5m, up from HK$200.3m in one year. However, it does have HK$64.0m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about HK$185.5m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SEHK:2182 Debt to Equity History November 25th 2021

A Look At Tian Chang Group Holdings' Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Tian Chang Group Holdings had liabilities of HK$463.8m due within 12 months and liabilities of HK$55.0m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of HK$64.0m as well as receivables valued at HK$207.6m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by HK$247.3m.

This deficit is considerable relative to its market capitalization of HK$316.2m, so it does suggest shareholders should keep an eye on Tian Chang Group Holdings' use of debt. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Tian Chang Group Holdings's net debt is only 1.2 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 16.0 times over. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. On top of that, Tian Chang Group Holdings grew its EBIT by 44% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Tian Chang Group Holdings's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. In the last three years, Tian Chang Group Holdings's free cash flow amounted to 44% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.

Our View

Tian Chang Group Holdings's interest cover was a real positive on this analysis, as was its EBIT growth rate. On the other hand, its level of total liabilities makes us a little less comfortable about its debt. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that Tian Chang Group Holdings is managing its debt quite well. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Tian Chang Group Holdings 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.

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