share_log

Does Xinyi Solar Holdings (HKG:968) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

Simply Wall St ·  11/13/2023 08:09

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.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. As with many other companies Xinyi Solar Holdings Limited (HKG:968) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

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. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. 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 step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Xinyi Solar Holdings

What Is Xinyi Solar Holdings's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of June 2023 Xinyi Solar Holdings had HK$8.45b of debt, an increase on HK$6.98b, over one year. However, it also had HK$4.26b in cash, and so its net debt is HK$4.19b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
SEHK:968 Debt to Equity History November 13th 2023

A Look At Xinyi Solar Holdings' Liabilities

According to the last reported balance sheet, Xinyi Solar Holdings had liabilities of HK$14.2b due within 12 months, and liabilities of HK$4.00b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had HK$4.26b in cash and HK$12.0b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by HK$1.96b.

Since publicly traded Xinyi Solar Holdings shares are worth a total of HK$40.2b, 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.

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). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

Xinyi Solar Holdings's net debt is only 0.66 times its EBITDA. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 15.5 times over. So you could argue it is no more threatened by its debt than an elephant is by a mouse. But the other side of the story is that Xinyi Solar Holdings saw its EBIT decline by 9.5% over the last year. That sort of decline, if sustained, will obviously make debt harder to handle. 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 Xinyi Solar 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, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Considering the last three years, Xinyi Solar Holdings actually recorded a cash outflow, overall. Debt is usually more expensive, and almost always more risky in the hands of a company with negative free cash flow. Shareholders ought to hope for an improvement.

Our View

When it comes to the balance sheet, the standout positive for Xinyi Solar Holdings was the fact that it seems able to cover its interest expense with its EBIT confidently. But the other factors we noted above weren't so encouraging. To be specific, it seems about as good at converting EBIT to free cash flow as wet socks are at keeping your feet warm. When we consider all the factors mentioned above, we do feel a bit cautious about Xinyi Solar Holdings's use of debt. While debt does have its upside in higher potential returns, we think shareholders should definitely consider how debt levels might make the stock more risky. 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. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Xinyi Solar Holdings .

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.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of any specific investment or investment strategy. Read more
    Write a comment