CSE Global (SGX:544) Seems To Use Debt Rather Sparingly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
June 11, 2021
SGX:544
Source: Shutterstock

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. We note that CSE Global Limited (SGX:544) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for CSE Global

What Is CSE Global's Net Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that CSE Global had debt of S$93.7m at the end of December 2020, a reduction from S$103.1m over a year. However, it also had S$52.5m in cash, and so its net debt is S$41.2m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SGX:544 Debt to Equity History June 11th 2021

A Look At CSE Global's Liabilities

The latest balance sheet data shows that CSE Global had liabilities of S$161.1m due within a year, and liabilities of S$49.1m falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of S$52.5m and S$168.6m worth of receivables due within a year. So it can boast S$10.9m more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This surplus suggests that CSE Global has a conservative balance sheet, and could probably eliminate its debt without much difficulty.

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).

CSE Global's net debt is only 0.82 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 14.5 times over. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. And we also note warmly that CSE Global grew its EBIT by 19% last year, making its debt load easier to handle. 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 CSE Global 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. Over the most recent three years, CSE Global recorded free cash flow worth 73% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

CSE Global's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And the good news does not stop there, as its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow also supports that impression! Considering this range of factors, it seems to us that CSE Global is quite prudent with its debt, and the risks seem well managed. So the balance sheet looks pretty healthy, to us. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for CSE Global that you should be aware of before investing here.

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.

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