April 20, 2024

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.' So it seems the smart money knows that debt – which is usually involved in bankruptcies – is a very important factor, when you assess how risky a company is. We can see that Tian Lun Gas Holdings Limited (HKG:1600) does use debt in its business. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?
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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.
Check out our latest analysis for Tian Lun Gas Holdings
You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that as of June 2022 Tian Lun Gas Holdings had CN¥7.21b of debt, an increase on CN¥5.65b, over one year. However, it also had CN¥1.17b in cash, and so its net debt is CN¥6.04b.
According to the last reported balance sheet, Tian Lun Gas Holdings had liabilities of CN¥3.95b due within 12 months, and liabilities of CN¥6.10b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had CN¥1.17b in cash and CN¥3.63b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by CN¥5.25b.
This deficit casts a shadow over the CN¥3.07b company, like a colossus towering over mere mortals. So we'd watch its balance sheet closely, without a doubt. At the end of the day, Tian Lun Gas Holdings would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.
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.
Tian Lun Gas Holdings has a debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.9 and its EBIT covered its interest expense 5.0 times. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. Unfortunately, Tian Lun Gas Holdings's EBIT flopped 20% over the last four quarters. If that sort of decline is not arrested, then the managing its debt will be harder than selling broccoli flavoured ice-cream for a premium. 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 Tian Lun Gas 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 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, Tian Lun Gas Holdings produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 53% of its EBIT, about what we'd expect. This free cash flow puts the company in a good position to pay down debt, when appropriate.
On the face of it, Tian Lun Gas Holdings's EBIT growth rate left us tentative about the stock, and its level of total liabilities was no more enticing than the one empty restaurant on the busiest night of the year. But at least it's pretty decent at converting EBIT to free cash flow; that's encouraging. We should also note that Gas Utilities industry companies like Tian Lun Gas Holdings commonly do use debt without problems. We're quite clear that we consider Tian Lun Gas Holdings to be really rather risky, as a result of its balance sheet health. 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. For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Tian Lun Gas Holdings (1 is concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.
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.

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.
Tian Lun Gas Holdings Limited, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the transportation, distribution, and sale of natural gas and compressed natural gas through its gas pipeline connections in the People’ Republic of China.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
Undervalued with mediocre balance sheet.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.
Tian Lun Gas Holdings Limited, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the transportation, distribution, and sale of natural gas and compressed natural gas through its gas pipeline connections in the People’ Republic of China.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
Undervalued with mediocre balance sheet.
Simply Wall Street Pty Ltd (ACN 600 056 611), is a Corporate Authorised Representative (Authorised Representative Number: 467183) of Sanlam Private Wealth Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 337927). Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should not rely on any advice and/or information contained in this website and before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice. Please read our Financial Services Guide before deciding whether to obtain financial services from us.

source

About Author

Leave a Reply