Stock Analysis

We Think Mandarin Oriental International (SGX:M04) Can Stay On Top Of Its Debt

SGX:M04
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Warren Buffett famously said, '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 is this debt a concern to shareholders?

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. 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. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

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How Much Debt Does Mandarin Oriental International Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Mandarin Oriental International had debt of US$582.0m at the end of June 2023, a reduction from US$698.1m over a year. On the flip side, it has US$349.3m in cash leading to net debt of about US$232.7m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SGX:M04 Debt to Equity History September 19th 2023

How Strong Is Mandarin Oriental International's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Mandarin Oriental International had liabilities of US$758.5m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$160.4m due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$349.3m and US$86.0m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$483.6m.

This deficit isn't so bad because Mandarin Oriental International is worth US$2.10b, and thus could probably raise enough capital to shore up its balance sheet, if the need arose. But we definitely want to keep our eyes open to indications that its debt is bringing too much risk.

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 has net debt worth 2.2 times EBITDA, which isn't too much, but its interest cover looks a bit on the low side, with EBIT at only 4.7 times the interest expense. While that doesn't worry us too much, it does suggest the interest payments are somewhat of a burden. Notably, Mandarin Oriental International made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, but improved that to positive EBIT of US$65m in the last twelve months. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Mandarin Oriental International will need earnings to service that debt. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.

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 the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, Mandarin Oriental International actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last year. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

Happily, Mandarin Oriental International's impressive conversion of EBIT to free cash flow implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And its level of total liabilities is good too. All these things considered, it appears that Mandarin Oriental International can comfortably handle its current debt levels. 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. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Mandarin Oriental International that you should be aware of before investing here.

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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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.