We Think Grand Baoxin Auto Group (HKG:1293) Is Taking Some Risk With Its Debt

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 15, 2021
SEHK:1293
Source: Shutterstock

Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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 can see that Grand Baoxin Auto Group Limited (HKG:1293) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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 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. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Grand Baoxin Auto Group

What Is Grand Baoxin Auto Group's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Grand Baoxin Auto Group had debt of CN¥6.39b at the end of June 2021, a reduction from CN¥9.79b over a year. However, it also had CN¥1.83b in cash, and so its net debt is CN¥4.55b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SEHK:1293 Debt to Equity History October 15th 2021

How Strong Is Grand Baoxin Auto Group's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Grand Baoxin Auto Group had liabilities of CN¥12.4b due within a year, and liabilities of CN¥5.19b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had CN¥1.83b in cash and CN¥750.4m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total CN¥15.0b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the CN¥2.28b 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'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, Grand Baoxin Auto Group would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Grand Baoxin Auto Group has net debt worth 2.5 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 2.6 times the interest expense. While that doesn't worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. We saw Grand Baoxin Auto Group grow its EBIT by 2.7% in the last twelve months. That's far from incredible but it is a good thing, when it comes to paying off debt. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Grand Baoxin Auto Group can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

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 most recent three years, Grand Baoxin Auto Group recorded free cash flow worth 71% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

Mulling over Grand Baoxin Auto Group's attempt at staying on top of its total liabilities, we're certainly not enthusiastic. But on the bright side, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Overall, we think it's fair to say that Grand Baoxin Auto Group has enough debt that there are some real risks around the balance sheet. If everything goes well that may pay off but the downside of this debt is a greater risk of permanent losses. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Grand Baoxin Auto Group (1 is potentially serious!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

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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