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Red Star Macalline Group (HKG:1528) Has No Shortage Of Debt
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.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. We note that Red Star Macalline Group Corporation Ltd. (HKG:1528) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
When Is Debt Dangerous?
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. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.
See our latest analysis for Red Star Macalline Group
What Is Red Star Macalline Group's Debt?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Red Star Macalline Group had CN¥34.3b of debt in September 2022, down from CN¥41.2b, one year before. However, it also had CN¥6.74b in cash, and so its net debt is CN¥27.5b.
How Healthy Is Red Star Macalline Group's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Red Star Macalline Group had liabilities of CN¥29.0b due within a year, and liabilities of CN¥47.0b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had CN¥6.74b in cash and CN¥5.55b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CN¥63.7b.
The deficiency here weighs heavily on the CN¥23.6b 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 definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, Red Star Macalline Group would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.
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). 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).
Weak interest cover of 2.0 times and a disturbingly high net debt to EBITDA ratio of 6.1 hit our confidence in Red Star Macalline Group like a one-two punch to the gut. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Another concern for investors might be that Red Star Macalline Group's EBIT fell 12% in the last year. If things keep going like that, handling the debt will about as easy as bundling an angry house cat into its travel box. 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 Red Star Macalline Group 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. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Looking at the most recent three years, Red Star Macalline Group recorded free cash flow of 41% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That's not great, when it comes to paying down debt.
To be frank both Red Star Macalline Group's net debt to EBITDA and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. Having said that, its ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow isn't such a worry. After considering the datapoints discussed, we think Red Star Macalline Group has too much debt. That sort of riskiness is ok for some, but it certainly doesn't float our boat. 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. For instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for Red Star Macalline Group (1 is significant) you should be aware of.
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.
Red Star Macalline Group
Red Star Macalline Group Corporation Ltd.
Moderate growth potential second-rate dividend payer.