Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. We note that Redsun Properties Group Limited (HKG:1996) 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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
What Is Redsun Properties Group's Net Debt?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2021 Redsun Properties Group had CN¥34.1b of debt, an increase on CN¥32.3b, over one year. However, it also had CN¥16.6b in cash, and so its net debt is CN¥17.6b.
How Strong Is Redsun Properties Group's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Redsun Properties Group had liabilities of CN¥74.2b due within a year, and liabilities of CN¥26.8b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of CN¥16.6b and CN¥14.8b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CN¥69.6b.
This deficit casts a shadow over the CN¥7.24b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. At the end of the day, Redsun Properties Group would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.
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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.
With a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 5.4, it's fair to say Redsun Properties Group does have a significant amount of debt. However, its interest coverage of 3.3 is reasonably strong, which is a good sign. On a lighter note, we note that Redsun Properties Group grew its EBIT by 23% in the last year. If sustained, this growth should make that debt evaporate like a scarce drinking water during an unnaturally hot summer. 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 Redsun Properties Group'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.
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. Over the last three years, Redsun Properties Group saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.
To be frank both Redsun Properties Group's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least it's pretty decent at growing its EBIT; that's encouraging. Overall, it seems to us that Redsun Properties Group's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. So we're almost as wary of this stock as a hungry kitten is about falling into its owner's fish pond: once bitten, twice shy, as they say. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Redsun Properties Group (including 1 which shouldn't be ignored) .
Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.