Stock Analysis

We Think Ta Ann Holdings Berhad (KLSE:TAANN) Can Stay On Top Of Its Debt

KLSE:TAANN
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David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the 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. We note that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad (KLSE:TAANN) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. 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.

Check out 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 RM528.0m of debt in June 2020, down from RM577.1m, one year before. On the flip side, it has RM140.4m in cash leading to net debt of about RM387.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
KLSE:TAANN Debt to Equity History November 19th 2020

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

According to the last reported balance sheet, Ta Ann Holdings Berhad had liabilities of RM418.6m due within 12 months, and liabilities of RM517.2m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of RM140.4m and RM72.2m worth of receivables due within a year. So it has liabilities totalling RM723.1m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

This deficit isn't so bad because Ta Ann Holdings Berhad is worth RM1.35b, 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.

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 sitting at a very reasonable 1.9 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 5.5 times last year. While that doesn't worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. One way Ta Ann Holdings Berhad could vanquish its debt would be if it stops borrowing more but continues to grow EBIT at around 12%, as it did over the last year. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Ta Ann Holdings Berhad can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you're focused on the future you can check out this free report showing analyst profit forecasts.

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, Ta Ann Holdings Berhad produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 74% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

When it comes to the balance sheet, the standout positive for Ta Ann Holdings Berhad was the fact that it seems able to convert EBIT to free cash flow confidently. But the other factors we noted above weren't so encouraging. For instance it seems like it has to struggle a bit to handle its total liabilities. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that Ta Ann Holdings Berhad is managing its debt quite well. But a word of caution: we think debt levels are high enough to justify ongoing monitoring. Above most other metrics, we think its important to track how fast earnings per share is growing, if at all. If you've also come to that realization, you're in luck, because today you can view this interactive graph of Ta Ann Holdings Berhad's earnings per share history for free.

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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