Anhui Conch Cement (HKG:914) Has A Rock Solid Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 31, 2021
SEHK:914
Source: Shutterstock

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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. Importantly, Anhui Conch Cement Company Limited (HKG:914) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Anhui Conch Cement

How Much Debt Does Anhui Conch Cement Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Anhui Conch Cement had debt of CN¥10.1b at the end of September 2021, a reduction from CN¥11.9b over a year. But it also has CN¥89.9b in cash to offset that, meaning it has CN¥79.8b net cash.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SEHK:914 Debt to Equity History November 1st 2021

How Healthy Is Anhui Conch Cement's Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Anhui Conch Cement had liabilities of CN¥24.2b due within 12 months and liabilities of CN¥8.58b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of CN¥89.9b as well as receivables valued at CN¥14.5b due within 12 months. So it can boast CN¥71.5b more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This surplus liquidity suggests that Anhui Conch Cement's balance sheet could take a hit just as well as Homer Simpson's head can take a punch. With this in mind one could posit that its balance sheet means the company is able to handle some adversity. Succinctly put, Anhui Conch Cement boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

But the other side of the story is that Anhui Conch Cement saw its EBIT decline by 8.7% over the last year. If earnings continue to decline at that rate the company may have increasing difficulty managing its debt load. 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 Anhui Conch Cement can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. While Anhui Conch Cement has net cash on its balance sheet, it's still worth taking a look at its ability to convert earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, to help us understand how quickly it is building (or eroding) that cash balance. Over the most recent three years, Anhui Conch Cement recorded free cash flow worth 67% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Summing up

While we empathize with investors who find debt concerning, you should keep in mind that Anhui Conch Cement has net cash of CN¥79.8b, as well as more liquid assets than liabilities. And it impressed us with free cash flow of CN¥19b, being 67% of its EBIT. So we don't think Anhui Conch Cement's use of debt is risky. 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. Be aware that Anhui Conch Cement is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those can't be ignored...

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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