These 4 Measures Indicate That Malakoff Corporation Berhad (KLSE:MALAKOF) Is Using Debt Extensively

By
Simply Wall St
Published
August 24, 2021
KLSE:MALAKOF
Source: Shutterstock

The external fund manager backed by Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger, Li Lu, makes no bones about it when he says '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 Malakoff Corporation Berhad (KLSE:MALAKOF) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Malakoff Corporation Berhad

How Much Debt Does Malakoff Corporation Berhad Carry?

As you can see below, Malakoff Corporation Berhad had RM10.8b of debt at June 2021, down from RM12.0b a year prior. However, it does have RM4.29b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about RM6.54b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
KLSE:MALAKOF Debt to Equity History August 25th 2021

A Look At Malakoff Corporation Berhad's Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that Malakoff Corporation Berhad had liabilities of RM3.31b due within a year, and liabilities of RM14.3b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of RM4.29b and RM1.32b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total RM12.0b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the RM4.30b company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. After all, Malakoff Corporation Berhad would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today.

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). 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).

While Malakoff Corporation Berhad's debt to EBITDA ratio (3.2) suggests that it uses some debt, its interest cover is very weak, at 1.5, suggesting high leverage. In large part that's due to the company's significant depreciation and amortisation charges, which arguably mean its EBITDA is a very generous measure of earnings, and its debt may be more of a burden than it first appears. So shareholders should probably be aware that interest expenses appear to have really impacted the business lately. Worse, Malakoff Corporation Berhad's EBIT was down 44% over the last year. If earnings continue to follow that trajectory, paying off that debt load will be harder than convincing us to run a marathon in the rain. 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 Malakoff Corporation 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 company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, Malakoff Corporation Berhad actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

To be frank both Malakoff Corporation Berhad's EBIT growth rate and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. But at least it's pretty decent at converting EBIT to free cash flow; that's encouraging. Overall, it seems to us that Malakoff Corporation Berhad's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. For this reason we're pretty cautious about the stock, and we think shareholders should keep a close eye on its liquidity. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for Malakoff Corporation Berhad you should be aware of, and 1 of them is a bit unpleasant.

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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