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 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 Fosun International Limited (HKG:656) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?
Why Does Debt Bring Risk?
Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free 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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.
View our latest analysis for Fosun International
What Is Fosun International's Net Debt?
As you can see below, at the end of June 2022, Fosun International had CN¥275.3b of debt, up from CN¥261.7b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have CN¥186.8b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about CN¥88.6b.SEHK:656 Debt to Equity History September 14th 2022
How Strong Is Fosun International's Balance Sheet?
The latest balance sheet data shows that Fosun International had liabilities of CN¥375.4b due within a year, and liabilities of CN¥275.8b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of CN¥186.8b and CN¥66.0b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total CN¥398.4b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
This deficit casts a shadow over the CN¥33.5b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. After all, Fosun International would likely require a major re-capitalisation if it had to pay its creditors today. 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 Fosun International 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, Fosun International reported revenue of CN¥174b, which is a gain of 21%, although it did not report any earnings before interest and tax. With any luck the company will be able to grow its way to profitability.
Even though Fosun International managed to grow its top line quite deftly, the cold hard truth is that it is losing money on the EBIT line. Indeed, it lost CN¥740m at the EBIT level. Reflecting on this and the significant total liabilities, it's hard to know what to say about the stock because of our intense dis-affinity for it. Sure, the company might have a nice story about how they are going on to a brighter future. But the reality is that it is low on liquid assets relative to liabilities, and it burned through CN¥12b in the last year. So we consider this a high risk stock, and we're worried its share price could sink faster than than a dingy with a great white shark attacking it. 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 example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Fosun International (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
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.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.