Stock Analysis

Is Meituan (HKG:3690) Using Debt In A Risky Way?

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Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. As with many other companies Meituan (HKG:3690) makes use of debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Meituan

What Is Meituan's Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of June 2022, Meituan had CN¥60.7b of debt, up from CN¥49.7b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. But it also has CN¥107.5b in cash to offset that, meaning it has CN¥46.9b net cash.

SEHK:3690 Debt to Equity History October 5th 2022

A Look At Meituan's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Meituan had liabilities of CN¥66.1b due within 12 months, and liabilities of CN¥53.3b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of CN¥107.5b and CN¥14.8b worth of receivables due within a year. So it can boast CN¥2.86b more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This state of affairs indicates that Meituan's balance sheet looks quite solid, as its total liabilities are just about equal to its liquid assets. So while it's hard to imagine that the CN¥906.9b company is struggling for cash, we still think it's worth monitoring its balance sheet. Simply put, the fact that Meituan has more cash than debt is arguably a good indication that it can manage its debt safely. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Meituan's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Over 12 months, Meituan reported revenue of CN¥196b, which is a gain of 27%, although it did not report any earnings before interest and tax. With any luck the company will be able to grow its way to profitability.

So How Risky Is Meituan?

Statistically speaking companies that lose money are riskier than those that make money. And in the last year Meituan had an earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss, truth be told. And over the same period it saw negative free cash outflow of CN¥11b and booked a CN¥22b accounting loss. With only CN¥46.9b on the balance sheet, it would appear that its going to need to raise capital again soon. With very solid revenue growth in the last year, Meituan may be on a path to profitability. By investing before those profits, shareholders take on more risk in the hope of bigger rewards. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Meituan you should be aware of.

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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About SEHK:3690


Meituan operates an e-commerce platform for various services.

The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.

Analysis AreaScore (0-6)
Future Growth4
Past Performance0
Financial Health6

Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.

Flawless balance sheet with reasonable growth potential.