Stock Analysis

These 4 Measures Indicate That Ta Ann Holdings Berhad (KLSE:TAANN) Is Using Debt Safely

KLSE:TAANN
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Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. Importantly, Ta Ann Holdings Berhad (KLSE:TAANN) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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 common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. 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. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Ta Ann Holdings Berhad

How Much Debt Does Ta Ann Holdings Berhad Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad had debt of RM404.7m at the end of September 2021, a reduction from RM517.3m over a year. However, it does have RM368.7m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about RM36.0m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
KLSE:TAANN Debt to Equity History February 16th 2022

A Look At Ta Ann Holdings Berhad's Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad had liabilities of RM465.7m falling due within a year, and liabilities of RM474.5m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of RM368.7m as well as receivables valued at RM47.4m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling RM524.1m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This deficit isn't so bad because Ta Ann Holdings Berhad is worth RM1.88b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

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

Ta Ann Holdings Berhad's net debt is only 0.11 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 23.7 times the size. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. Better yet, Ta Ann Holdings Berhad grew its EBIT by 105% last year, which is an impressive improvement. That boost will make it even easier to pay down debt going forward. 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 want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the last three years, Ta Ann Holdings Berhad actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

Ta Ann Holdings Berhad's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is also very heartening. Considering this range of factors, it seems to us that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad is quite prudent with its debt, and the risks seem well managed. So the balance sheet looks pretty healthy, to us. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Be aware that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis , and 1 of those is a bit concerning...

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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.