Suheung (KRX:008490) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
April 29, 2021
KOSE:A008490
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. As with many other companies Suheung Co., Ltd. (KRX:008490) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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 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. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for Suheung

What Is Suheung's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of December 2020 Suheung had ₩347.1b of debt, an increase on ₩321.2b, over one year. However, it does have ₩56.3b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₩290.8b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
KOSE:A008490 Debt to Equity History April 29th 2021

How Strong Is Suheung's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Suheung had liabilities of ₩267.3b falling due within a year, and liabilities of ₩121.7b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had ₩56.3b in cash and ₩83.9b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total ₩248.9b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Suheung has a market capitalization of ₩602.7b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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). 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).

With net debt to EBITDA of 2.7 Suheung has a fairly noticeable amount of debt. On the plus side, its EBIT was 8.9 times its interest expense, and its net debt to EBITDA, was quite high, at 2.7. It is well worth noting that Suheung's EBIT shot up like bamboo after rain, gaining 57% in the last twelve months. That'll make it easier to manage its debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Suheung can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

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. Over the last three years, Suheung saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.

Our View

Suheung's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered were considerably better. There's no doubt that its ability to to grow its EBIT is pretty flash. We would also note that Medical Equipment industry companies like Suheung commonly do use debt without problems. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about Suheung's use of debt. While debt does have its upside in higher potential returns, we think shareholders should definitely consider how debt levels might make the stock more risky. 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. We've identified 2 warning signs with Suheung (at least 1 which is a bit concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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