Stock Analysis

Is Dada Nexus (NASDAQ:DADA) Using Debt In A Risky Way?

NasdaqGS:DADA
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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.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. We note that Dada Nexus Limited (NASDAQ:DADA) does have debt on its balance sheet. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. 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.

View our latest analysis for Dada Nexus

How Much Debt Does Dada Nexus Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Dada Nexus had debt of CN¥100.0m at the end of March 2022, a reduction from CN¥500.0m over a year. However, its balance sheet shows it holds CN¥4.49b in cash, so it actually has CN¥4.39b net cash.

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NasdaqGS:DADA Debt to Equity History July 6th 2022

How Strong Is Dada Nexus' Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, Dada Nexus had liabilities of CN¥1.34b due within 12 months, and liabilities of CN¥64.6m due beyond 12 months. On the other hand, it had cash of CN¥4.49b and CN¥1.29b worth of receivables due within a year. So it actually has CN¥4.37b more liquid assets than total liabilities.

This excess liquidity suggests that Dada Nexus is taking a careful approach to debt. Due to its strong net asset position, it is not likely to face issues with its lenders. Succinctly put, Dada Nexus boasts net cash, so it's fair to say it does not have a heavy debt load! When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Dada Nexus can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Over 12 months, Dada Nexus reported revenue of CN¥7.2b, which is a gain of 14%, although it did not report any earnings before interest and tax. That rate of growth is a bit slow for our taste, but it takes all types to make a world.

So How Risky Is Dada Nexus?

Statistically speaking companies that lose money are riskier than those that make money. And in the last year Dada Nexus had an earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss, truth be told. And over the same period it saw negative free cash outflow of CN¥2.7b and booked a CN¥2.4b accounting loss. But at least it has CN¥4.39b on the balance sheet to spend on growth, near-term. Even though its balance sheet seems sufficiently liquid, debt always makes us a little nervous if a company doesn't produce free cash flow regularly. 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. For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Dada Nexus that 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 Dada Nexus 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.