Here's Why Lifestyle International Holdings (HKG:1212) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 13, 2022
SEHK:1212
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. Importantly, Lifestyle International Holdings Limited (HKG:1212) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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 Lifestyle International Holdings

What Is Lifestyle International Holdings's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Lifestyle International Holdings had debt of HK$18.7b at the end of December 2021, a reduction from HK$20.6b over a year. However, it also had HK$5.40b in cash, and so its net debt is HK$13.3b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SEHK:1212 Debt to Equity History May 13th 2022

How Strong Is Lifestyle International Holdings' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Lifestyle International Holdings had liabilities of HK$9.01b due within 12 months, and liabilities of HK$11.3b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of HK$5.40b and HK$48.5m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by HK$14.9b.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the HK$5.41b 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, Lifestyle International Holdings 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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

With a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 12.8, it's fair to say Lifestyle International Holdings does have a significant amount of debt. However, its interest coverage of 2.8 is reasonably strong, which is a good sign. On a lighter note, we note that Lifestyle International Holdings grew its EBIT by 27% in the last year. If it can maintain that kind of improvement, its debt load will begin to melt away like glaciers in a warming world. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Lifestyle International 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, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Lifestyle International Holdings produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 74% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

On the face of it, Lifestyle International Holdings's net debt to EBITDA left us tentative about the stock, and its level of total liabilities was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But at least it's pretty decent at growing its EBIT; that's encouraging. Once we consider all the factors above, together, it seems to us that Lifestyle International Holdings's debt is making it a bit risky. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we'd generally feel more comfortable with less leverage. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Lifestyle International Holdings you should be aware of, and 1 of them makes us a bit uncomfortable.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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