Stock Analysis

Green Cross Holdings (KRX:005250) Seems To Be Using A Lot Of Debt

KOSE:A005250
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Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' 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, Green Cross Holdings Corporation (KRX:005250) does carry debt. 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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Green Cross Holdings

What Is Green Cross Holdings's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of September 2020, Green Cross Holdings had ₩1.06t of debt, up from ₩825.0b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have ₩287.3b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about ₩770.4b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
KOSE:A005250 Debt to Equity History March 2nd 2021

How Healthy Is Green Cross Holdings' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Green Cross Holdings had liabilities of ₩1.19t due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₩507.8b due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of ₩287.3b and ₩485.5b worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling ₩928.5b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Green Cross Holdings has a market capitalization of ₩1.67t, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Green Cross Holdings shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (7.8), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 2.0 times the interest expense. This means we'd consider it to have a heavy debt load. Even worse, Green Cross Holdings saw its EBIT tank 39% over the last 12 months. If earnings keep going like that over the long term, it has a snowball's chance in hell of paying off that debt. 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 Green Cross 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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Green Cross Holdings burned a lot of cash. 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

On the face of it, Green Cross Holdings's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow left us tentative about the stock, and its EBIT growth rate was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. Having said that, its ability to handle its total liabilities isn't such a worry. Taking into account all the aforementioned factors, it looks like Green Cross Holdings has too much debt. That sort of riskiness is ok for some, but it certainly doesn't float our boat. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Be aware that Green Cross Holdings is showing 5 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 2 of those are a bit concerning...

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.

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