Stock Analysis

Is Jetwell Computer (GTSM:3147) Using Too Much Debt?

TPEX:3147
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Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt - which is usually involved in bankruptcies - is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. As with many other companies Jetwell Computer Co., Ltd. (GTSM:3147) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

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What Is Jetwell Computer's Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Jetwell Computer had debt of NT$342.2m at the end of September 2020, a reduction from NT$376.9m over a year. On the flip side, it has NT$46.1m in cash leading to net debt of about NT$296.1m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
GTSM:3147 Debt to Equity History February 2nd 2021

How Healthy Is Jetwell Computer's Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Jetwell Computer had liabilities of NT$947.6m due within 12 months, and liabilities of NT$25.6m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of NT$46.1m as well as receivables valued at NT$527.0m due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling NT$400.1m more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.

Jetwell Computer has a market capitalization of NT$1.05b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

We measure a company's debt load relative to its earnings power by looking at its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and by calculating how easily its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) cover its interest expense (interest cover). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.

Jetwell Computer's net debt is 2.8 times its EBITDA, which is a significant but still reasonable amount of leverage. But its EBIT was about 1k times its interest expense, implying the company isn't really paying a high cost to maintain that level of debt. Even were the low cost to prove unsustainable, that is a good sign. Shareholders should be aware that Jetwell Computer's EBIT was down 34% last year. If that earnings trend continues then paying off its debt will be about as easy as herding cats on to a roller coaster. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Jetwell Computer 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 we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the most recent three years, Jetwell Computer recorded free cash flow worth 71% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.

Our View

Based on what we've seen Jetwell Computer is not finding it easy, given its EBIT growth rate, but the other factors we considered give us cause to be optimistic. In particular, we are dazzled with its interest cover. Looking at all this data makes us feel a little cautious about Jetwell Computer's debt levels. While debt does have its upside in higher potential returns, we think shareholders should definitely consider how debt levels might make the stock more risky. 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. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Jetwell Computer 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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