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. As with many other companies Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures Limited (HKG:1442) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
When Is Debt A Problem?
Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. If things get really bad, the lenders can take control of the business. However, a more common (but still painful) scenario is that it has to raise new equity capital at a low price, thus permanently diluting shareholders. By replacing dilution, though, debt can be an extremely good tool for businesses that need capital to invest in growth at high rates of return. The first thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.
See our latest analysis for Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures
What Is Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures's Net Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at June 2023 Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures had debt of RM145.3m, up from RM64.2m in one year. However, it does have RM38.7m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about RM106.6m.
A Look At Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures' Liabilities
According to the last reported balance sheet, Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures had liabilities of RM118.0m due within 12 months, and liabilities of RM191.4m due beyond 12 months. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of RM38.7m as well as receivables valued at RM90.2m due within 12 months. So its liabilities total RM180.5m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.
Since publicly traded Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures shares are worth a total of RM1.41b, it seems unlikely that this level of liabilities would be a major threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse.
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). The advantage of this approach is that we take into account both the absolute quantum of debt (with net debt to EBITDA) and the actual interest expenses associated with that debt (with its interest cover ratio).
Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures's net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 2.2 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 3.5 times last year. While these numbers do not alarm us, it's worth noting that the cost of the company's debt is having a real impact. Shareholders should be aware that Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures's EBIT was down 36% 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 it is Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures's earnings that will influence how the balance sheet holds up in the future. So when considering debt, it's definitely worth looking at the earnings trend. Click here for an interactive snapshot.
Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. During the last three years, Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures burned a lot of cash. While that may be a result of expenditure for growth, it does make the debt far more risky.
On the face of it, Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures'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. Having said that, its ability to handle its total liabilities isn't such a worry. Looking at the bigger picture, it seems clear to us that Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures's use of debt is creating risks for the company. If everything goes well that may pay off but the downside of this debt is a greater risk of permanent losses. 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. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures (including 2 which don't sit too well with us) .
If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.
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.