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.' 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 can see that AAC Technologies Holdings Inc. (HKG:2018) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
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. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. 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, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
Check out our latest analysis for AAC Technologies Holdings
How Much Debt Does AAC Technologies Holdings Carry?
The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that AAC Technologies Holdings had CN¥9.56b in debt in June 2022; about the same as the year before. However, it does have CN¥5.22b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about CN¥4.34b.SEHK:2018 Debt to Equity History September 9th 2022
How Strong Is AAC Technologies Holdings' Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that AAC Technologies Holdings had liabilities of CN¥7.98b due within a year, and liabilities of CN¥10.0b falling due after that. Offsetting this, it had CN¥5.22b in cash and CN¥5.14b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CN¥7.66b.
While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since AAC Technologies Holdings has a market capitalization of CN¥15.3b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.
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.
While AAC Technologies Holdings's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.2 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 3.0 times last year does give us pause. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. Importantly, AAC Technologies Holdings's EBIT fell a jaw-dropping 55% in the last twelve months. If that earnings trend continues then paying off its debt will be about as easy as herding cats on to a roller coaster. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if AAC Technologies Holdings 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 we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, AAC Technologies Holdings saw substantial negative free cash flow, in total. While investors are no doubt expecting a reversal of that situation in due course, it clearly does mean its use of debt is more risky.
On the face of it, AAC Technologies Holdings's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow left us tentative about the stock, and its EBIT growth rate was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But on the bright side, its net debt to EBITDA is a good sign, and makes us more optimistic. Overall, it seems to us that AAC Technologies Holdings's balance sheet is really quite a risk to the business. So we're almost as wary of this stock as a hungry kitten is about falling into its owner's fish pond: once bitten, twice shy, as they say. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with AAC Technologies Holdings .
If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.
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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.