Stock Analysis

Does Mandarin Oriental International (SGX:M04) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

SGX:M04
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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. We can see that Mandarin Oriental International Limited (SGX:M04) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Generally speaking, debt only becomes a real problem when a company can't easily pay it off, either by raising capital or with its own cash flow. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Mandarin Oriental International

What Is Mandarin Oriental International's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Mandarin Oriental International had US$602.0m of debt in December 2022, down from US$730.3m, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$226.2m, its net debt is less, at about US$375.8m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SGX:M04 Debt to Equity History May 5th 2023

A Look At Mandarin Oriental International's Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Mandarin Oriental International had liabilities of US$185.6m due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$769.5m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$226.2m as well as receivables valued at US$94.0m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$634.9m.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Mandarin Oriental International has a market capitalization of US$2.24b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. 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.

Mandarin Oriental International shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (6.1), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 1.3 times the interest expense. The debt burden here is substantial. However, the silver lining was that Mandarin Oriental International achieved a positive EBIT of US$16m in the last twelve months, an improvement on the prior year's loss. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is Mandarin Oriental International's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Mandarin Oriental International actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last year. That sort of strong cash conversion gets us as excited as the crowd when the beat drops at a Daft Punk concert.

Our View

We weren't impressed with Mandarin Oriental International's net debt to EBITDA, and its interest cover made us cautious. But its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was significantly redeeming. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about Mandarin Oriental International's use of debt. While we appreciate debt can enhance returns on equity, we'd suggest that shareholders keep close watch on its debt levels, lest they increase. 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 Mandarin Oriental International you should be aware of.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Mandarin Oriental International is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.