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 might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. Importantly, Duopharma Biotech Berhad (KLSE:DPHARMA) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?
Why Does Debt Bring Risk?
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. 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.
What Is Duopharma Biotech Berhad's Debt?
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of March 2021 Duopharma Biotech Berhad had RM319.9m of debt, an increase on RM275.8m, over one year. However, it does have RM149.3m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about RM170.7m.
How Strong Is Duopharma Biotech Berhad's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Duopharma Biotech Berhad had liabilities of RM198.9m due within a year, and liabilities of RM268.3m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of RM149.3m and RM185.2m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by RM132.7m.
Since publicly traded Duopharma Biotech Berhad shares are worth a total of RM1.98b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.
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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).
We'd say that Duopharma Biotech Berhad's moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 1.5), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its commanding EBIT of 17.1 times its interest expense, implies the debt load is as light as a peacock feather. Also good is that Duopharma Biotech Berhad grew its EBIT at 15% over the last year, further increasing its ability to manage debt. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Duopharma Biotech 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, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the last three years, Duopharma Biotech Berhad reported free cash flow worth 3.1% of its EBIT, which is really quite low. That limp level of cash conversion undermines its ability to manage and pay down debt.
Happily, Duopharma Biotech Berhad's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But the stark truth is that we are concerned by its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Duopharma Biotech Berhad can handle its debt fairly comfortably. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Duopharma Biotech Berhad (including 1 which shouldn't be ignored) .
Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.
When trading stocks or any other investment, use the platform considered by many to be the Professional's Gateway to the Worlds Market, Interactive Brokers. You get the lowest-cost* trading on stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account. Promoted
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.