Stock Analysis

Is Ta Ann Holdings Berhad (KLSE:TAANN) A Risky Investment?

KLSE:TAANN
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Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. As with many other companies Ta Ann Holdings Berhad (KLSE:TAANN) makes use of debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Ta Ann Holdings Berhad

How Much Debt Does Ta Ann Holdings Berhad Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad had RM517.3m of debt in September 2020, down from RM570.6m, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of RM258.9m, its net debt is less, at about RM258.4m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
KLSE:TAANN Debt to Equity History March 12th 2021

How Healthy Is Ta Ann Holdings Berhad's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad had liabilities of RM438.0m falling due within a year, and liabilities of RM514.1m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of RM258.9m as well as receivables valued at RM42.1m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling RM651.1m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Ta Ann Holdings Berhad has a market capitalization of RM1.27b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate 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.

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

While Ta Ann Holdings Berhad's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.2 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 6.8 times last year does give us pause. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. Another good sign is that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad has been able to increase its EBIT by 24% in twelve months, making it easier to pay down debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Ta Ann Holdings Berhad's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, Ta Ann Holdings Berhad recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 100% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.

Our View

The good news is that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad's demonstrated ability to convert EBIT to free cash flow delights us like a fluffy puppy does a toddler. But truth be told we feel its level of total liabilities does undermine this impression a bit. When we consider the range of factors above, it looks like Ta Ann Holdings Berhad is pretty sensible with its use of debt. That means they are taking on a bit more risk, in the hope of boosting shareholder returns. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Ta Ann Holdings Berhad you should be aware of.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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