WMG Holdings Bhd (KLSE:WMG) Has No Shortage Of Debt

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 15, 2021
KLSE:WMG
Source: Shutterstock

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.' 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 can see that WMG Holdings Bhd. (KLSE:WMG) does use debt in its business. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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, 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 WMG Holdings Bhd

What Is WMG Holdings Bhd's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of September 2020, WMG Holdings Bhd had RM240.5m of debt, up from RM204.3m a year ago. Click the image for more detail. On the flip side, it has RM12.3m in cash leading to net debt of about RM228.3m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
KLSE:WMG Debt to Equity History March 16th 2021

A Look At WMG Holdings Bhd's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, WMG Holdings Bhd had liabilities of RM164.8m due within 12 months, and liabilities of RM105.0m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of RM12.3m as well as receivables valued at RM42.6m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total RM214.9m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This deficit casts a shadow over the RM125.7m 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, WMG Holdings Bhd 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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

WMG Holdings Bhd shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (43.3), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 0.026 times the interest expense. The debt burden here is substantial. However, the silver lining was that WMG Holdings Bhd achieved a positive EBIT of RM250k in the last twelve months, an improvement on the prior year's loss. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is WMG Holdings Bhd's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. Over the last year, WMG Holdings Bhd 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

On the face of it, WMG Holdings Bhd's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow left us tentative about the stock, and its level of total liabilities was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But at least its EBIT growth rate is not so bad. Considering all the factors previously mentioned, we think that WMG Holdings Bhd really is carrying too much debt. To us, that makes the stock rather risky, like walking through a dog park with your eyes closed. But some investors may feel differently. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for WMG Holdings Bhd (of which 2 shouldn't be ignored!) you should know about.

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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