Stock Analysis

China Hanking Holdings (HKG:3788) Has A Pretty Healthy Balance Sheet

SEHK:3788
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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. As with many other companies China Hanking Holdings Limited (HKG:3788) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for China Hanking Holdings

How Much Debt Does China Hanking Holdings Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that China Hanking Holdings had debt of CN¥647.3m at the end of December 2021, a reduction from CN¥744.8m over a year. However, it does have CN¥283.6m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about CN¥363.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SEHK:3788 Debt to Equity History June 3rd 2022

How Strong Is China Hanking Holdings' Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that China Hanking Holdings had liabilities of CN¥2.04b falling due within a year, and liabilities of CN¥206.9m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had CN¥283.6m in cash and CN¥555.9m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CN¥1.40b.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of CN¥2.10b. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe dilution.

We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

China Hanking Holdings has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.34. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 13.9 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. On top of that, China Hanking Holdings grew its EBIT by 55% 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 you can't view debt in total isolation; since China Hanking Holdings will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, China Hanking Holdings generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 98% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.

Our View

China Hanking Holdings's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. But truth be told we feel its level of total liabilities does undermine this impression a bit. Looking at the bigger picture, we think China Hanking Holdings's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. While debt does bring risk, when used wisely it can also bring a higher return on equity. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with China Hanking Holdings .

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 China Hanking Holdings 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.