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. As with many other companies Good Way Technology Co., Ltd. (GTSM:3272) makes use of debt. 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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.
What Is Good Way Technology's Net Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at December 2020 Good Way Technology had debt of NT$755.1m, up from NT$708.8m in one year. However, it also had NT$687.5m in cash, and so its net debt is NT$67.6m.
How Strong Is Good Way Technology's Balance Sheet?
According to the last reported balance sheet, Good Way Technology had liabilities of NT$2.19b due within 12 months, and liabilities of NT$352.7m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of NT$687.5m and NT$1.58b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by NT$279.4m.
Given Good Way Technology has a market capitalization of NT$3.08b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.
In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). Thus we consider debt relative to earnings both with and without depreciation and amortization expenses.
Good Way Technology's net debt is only 0.21 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense, being 16.0 times the size. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. On top of that, Good Way Technology grew its EBIT by 60% over the last twelve months, and that growth will make it easier to handle its debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But you can't view debt in total isolation; since Good Way Technology will need earnings to service that debt. So if you're keen to discover more about its earnings, it might be worth checking out this graph of its long term earnings trend.
But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. During the last three years, Good Way Technology burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.
Happily, Good Way Technology's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But the stark truth is that we are concerned by its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Good Way Technology can handle its debt fairly comfortably. Of course, while this leverage can enhance returns on equity, it does bring more risk, so it's worth keeping an eye on this one. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. We've identified 2 warning signs with Good Way Technology (at least 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
Of course, if you're the type of investor who prefers buying stocks without the burden of debt, then don't hesitate to discover our exclusive list of net cash growth stocks, today.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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