Stock Analysis

Is ASM Pacific Technology (HKG:522) A Risky Investment?

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SEHK:522
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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.' 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. Importantly, ASM Pacific Technology Limited (HKG:522) does carry 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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. Of course, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for ASM Pacific Technology

How Much Debt Does ASM Pacific Technology Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that ASM Pacific Technology had HK$3.13b of debt in June 2021, down from HK$3.69b, one year before. But it also has HK$4.10b in cash to offset that, meaning it has HK$972.6m net cash.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SEHK:522 Debt to Equity History October 12th 2021

A Look At ASM Pacific Technology's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, ASM Pacific Technology had liabilities of HK$7.55b due within 12 months, and liabilities of HK$4.34b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of HK$4.10b and HK$5.70b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by HK$2.08b.

Since publicly traded ASM Pacific Technology shares are worth a total of HK$34.4b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time. Despite its noteworthy liabilities, ASM Pacific Technology boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load!

In addition to that, we're happy to report that ASM Pacific Technology has boosted its EBIT by 79%, thus reducing the spectre of future debt repayments. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine ASM Pacific Technology'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.

Finally, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. ASM Pacific Technology may have net cash on the balance sheet, but it is still interesting to look at how well the business converts its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to free cash flow, because that will influence both its need for, and its capacity to manage debt. Happily for any shareholders, ASM Pacific Technology actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Summing up

We could understand if investors are concerned about ASM Pacific Technology's liabilities, but we can be reassured by the fact it has has net cash of HK$972.6m. The cherry on top was that in converted 102% of that EBIT to free cash flow, bringing in HK$1.7b. So we don't think ASM Pacific Technology's use of debt is risky. 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. For example - ASM Pacific Technology has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether ASMPT is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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About SEHK:522

ASMPT

ASMPT Limited, an investment holding company, engages in the design, manufacture, and marketing of machines, tools, and materials used in the semiconductor and electronics assembly industries worldwide.

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)
Valuation4
Future Growth0
Past Performance5
Financial Health5
Dividends4

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

Excellent balance sheet with solid track record and pays a dividend.