Is Medical Facilities (TSE:DR) Using Too Much Debt?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
July 24, 2021
TSX:DR
Source: Shutterstock

Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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 Medical Facilities Corporation (TSE:DR) makes use of debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. Ultimately, if the company can't fulfill its legal obligations to repay debt, shareholders could walk away with nothing. 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. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for Medical Facilities

What Is Medical Facilities's Debt?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Medical Facilities had US$84.6m of debt in March 2021, down from US$156.4m, one year before. However, it does have US$58.0m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$26.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
TSX:DR Debt to Equity History July 24th 2021

How Strong Is Medical Facilities' Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Medical Facilities had liabilities of US$93.8m due within 12 months and liabilities of US$173.0m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$58.0m in cash and US$62.2m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$146.6m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of US$194.2m. This suggests shareholders would be heavily diluted if the company needed to shore up its balance sheet in a hurry.

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).

While Medical Facilities's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 0.41 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 3.6 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, Medical Facilities's EBIT fell a jaw-dropping 27% 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. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Medical Facilities 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 the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. Over the last three years, Medical Facilities actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

We feel some trepidation about Medical Facilities's difficulty EBIT growth rate, but we've got positives to focus on, too. For example, its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and net debt to EBITDA give us some confidence in its ability to manage its debt. It's also worth noting that Medical Facilities is in the Healthcare industry, which is often considered to be quite defensive. We think that Medical Facilities's debt does make it a bit risky, after considering the aforementioned data points together. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since leverage can boost returns on equity, but it is something to be aware of. 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. For example - Medical Facilities has 4 warning signs we think you should be aware of.

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.

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