Kong Sun Holdings (HKG:295) Has No Shortage Of Debt

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 03, 2021
SEHK:295
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. Importantly, Kong Sun Holdings Limited (HKG:295) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Kong Sun Holdings

What Is Kong Sun Holdings's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Kong Sun Holdings had debt of CN¥5.80b at the end of June 2021, a reduction from CN¥9.13b over a year. However, it also had CN¥262.6m in cash, and so its net debt is CN¥5.54b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SEHK:295 Debt to Equity History November 3rd 2021

How Healthy Is Kong Sun Holdings' Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that Kong Sun Holdings had liabilities of CN¥2.79b due within a year, and liabilities of CN¥4.17b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of CN¥262.6m and CN¥4.10b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CN¥2.59b.

This deficit casts a shadow over the CN¥873.7m company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, Kong Sun Holdings would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).

Kong Sun Holdings shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (7.3), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 0.66 times the interest expense. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Even worse, Kong Sun Holdings saw its EBIT tank 37% over the last 12 months. If earnings continue to follow that trajectory, paying off that debt load will be harder than convincing us to run a marathon in the rain. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Kong Sun Holdings will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. In the last three years, Kong Sun Holdings created free cash flow amounting to 15% of its EBIT, an uninspiring performance. For us, cash conversion that low sparks a little paranoia about is ability to extinguish debt.

Our View

To be frank both Kong Sun Holdings's EBIT growth rate and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. And furthermore, its net debt to EBITDA also fails to instill confidence. We think the chances that Kong Sun Holdings has too much debt a very significant. To our minds, that means the stock is rather high risk, and probably one to avoid; but to each their own (investing) style. 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. We've identified 2 warning signs with Kong Sun Holdings (at least 1 which is potentially serious) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.

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.