Deson Development International Holdings (HKG:262) Has Debt But No Earnings; Should You Worry?

Simply Wall St
August 06, 2021
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 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. We note that Deson Development International Holdings Limited (HKG:262) does have debt on its balance sheet. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Deson Development International Holdings

How Much Debt Does Deson Development International Holdings Carry?

As you can see below, at the end of March 2021, Deson Development International Holdings had HK$485.5m of debt, up from HK$423.0m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have HK$20.6m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about HK$464.9m.

SEHK:262 Debt to Equity History August 6th 2021

How Strong Is Deson Development International Holdings' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Deson Development International Holdings had liabilities of HK$393.9m due within 12 months, and liabilities of HK$410.7m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of HK$20.6m and HK$68.4m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total HK$715.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the HK$111.5m 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. At the end of the day, Deson Development International Holdings would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Deson Development International 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.

In the last year Deson Development International Holdings had a loss before interest and tax, and actually shrunk its revenue by 70%, to HK$104m. That makes us nervous, to say the least.

Caveat Emptor

While Deson Development International Holdings's falling revenue is about as heartwarming as a wet blanket, arguably its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss is even less appealing. Its EBIT loss was a whopping HK$43m. Reflecting on this and the significant total liabilities, it's hard to know what to say about the stock because of our intense dis-affinity for it. Sure, the company might have a nice story about how they are going on to a brighter future. But the reality is that it is low on liquid assets relative to liabilities, and it burned through HK$38m in the last year. So is this a high risk stock? We think so, and we'd avoid it. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Deson Development International Holdings (of which 1 is a bit concerning!) you should know about.

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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