Does CSMall Group (HKG:1815) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 23, 2021
SEHK:1815
Source: Shutterstock

Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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 CSMall Group Limited (HKG:1815) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

Check out our latest analysis for CSMall Group

What Is CSMall Group's Debt?

As you can see below, CSMall Group had CN¥12.9m of debt at June 2021, down from CN¥31.9m a year prior. On the flip side, it has CN¥11.6m in cash leading to net debt of about CN¥1.24m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SEHK:1815 Debt to Equity History November 24th 2021

How Healthy Is CSMall Group's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that CSMall Group had liabilities of CN¥177.3m due within a year, and liabilities of CN¥7.04m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of CN¥11.6m and CN¥70.4m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling CN¥102.3m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Of course, CSMall Group has a market capitalization of CN¥1.68b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse. But either way, CSMall Group has virtually no net debt, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

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.

CSMall Group has very modest net debt levels, with net debt at just 0.044 times EBITDA. Humorously, it actually received more in interest over the last twelve months than it had to pay. So it's fair to say it can handle debt like an Olympic ice-skater handles a pirouette. Although CSMall Group made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, it was also good to see that it generated CN¥25m in EBIT over the last twelve months. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is CSMall Group's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.

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 the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. Over the last year, CSMall 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.

Our View

Based on what we've seen CSMall Group is not finding it easy, given its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow, but the other factors we considered give us cause to be optimistic. There's no doubt that its ability to to cover its interest expense with its EBIT is pretty flash. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that CSMall Group is managing its debt quite well. But a word of caution: we think debt levels are high enough to justify ongoing monitoring. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for CSMall Group you should be aware of, and 2 of them are a bit concerning.

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.

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.

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Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.