Stock Analysis

DB (KRX:012030) Has A Pretty Healthy Balance Sheet

KOSE:A012030
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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.' 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. We note that DB Inc. (KRX:012030) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

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How Much Debt Does DB Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that DB had debt of ₩72.6b at the end of September 2020, a reduction from ₩78.2b over a year. However, it also had ₩29.4b in cash, and so its net debt is ₩43.3b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
KOSE:A012030 Debt to Equity History November 30th 2020

How Healthy Is DB's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, DB had liabilities of ₩113.7b due within 12 months, and liabilities of ₩29.3b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of ₩29.4b as well as receivables valued at ₩48.2b due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by ₩65.5b.

This deficit isn't so bad because DB is worth ₩137.7b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.

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). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

DB has net debt of just 1.2 times EBITDA, indicating that it is certainly not a reckless borrower. And it boasts interest cover of 7.2 times, which is more than adequate. On top of that, DB grew its EBIT by 82% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since DB 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. Over the last three years, DB actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

DB's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. But truth be told we feel its level of total liabilities does undermine this impression a bit. Looking at the bigger picture, we think DB's use of debt seems quite reasonable and we're not concerned about it. While debt does bring risk, when used wisely it can also bring a higher return on equity. Over time, share prices tend to follow earnings per share, so if you're interested in DB, you may well want to click here to check an interactive graph of its earnings per share history.

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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