Does China Medical System Holdings (HKG:867) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

Simply Wall St
April 10, 2022
Source: Shutterstock

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 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. As with many other companies China Medical System Holdings Limited (HKG:867) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. 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 China Medical System Holdings

What Is China Medical System Holdings's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at December 2021 China Medical System Holdings had debt of CN¥1.68b, up from CN¥593.1m in one year. But on the other hand it also has CN¥4.36b in cash, leading to a CN¥2.68b net cash position.

SEHK:867 Debt to Equity History April 10th 2022

How Strong Is China Medical System Holdings' Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that China Medical System Holdings had liabilities of CN¥2.08b due within 12 months and liabilities of CN¥879.6m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had CN¥4.36b in cash and CN¥2.33b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it can boast CN¥3.73b more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This excess liquidity suggests that China Medical System Holdings is taking a careful approach to debt. Due to its strong net asset position, it is not likely to face issues with its lenders. Simply put, the fact that China Medical System Holdings has more cash than debt is arguably a good indication that it can manage its debt safely.

Also good is that China Medical System Holdings grew its EBIT at 14% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine China Medical System Holdings's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. 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 China Medical System Holdings 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. During the last three years, China Medical System Holdings generated free cash flow amounting to a very robust 83% of its EBIT, more than we'd expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Summing up

While it is always sensible to investigate a company's debt, in this case China Medical System Holdings has CN¥2.68b in net cash and a decent-looking balance sheet. The cherry on top was that in converted 83% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in CN¥2.3b. So is China Medical System Holdings's debt a risk? It doesn't seem so to us. Another positive for shareholders is that it pays dividends. So if you like receiving those dividend payments, check China Medical System Holdings's dividend history, without delay!

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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