- Life Sciences
Is Gerresheimer (ETR:GXI) A Risky Investment?
Warren Buffett famously said, 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' 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. We note that Gerresheimer AG (ETR:GXI) does have debt on its balance sheet. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.
What Risk Does Debt Bring?
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. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. 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. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.
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What Is Gerresheimer's Net Debt?
The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at November 2022 Gerresheimer had debt of €1.16b, up from €1.07b in one year. However, because it has a cash reserve of €112.8m, its net debt is less, at about €1.05b.
How Healthy Is Gerresheimer's Balance Sheet?
We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Gerresheimer had liabilities of €1.10b falling due within a year, and liabilities of €983.5m due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had €112.8m in cash and €359.6m in receivables that were due within 12 months. So it has liabilities totalling €1.61b more than its cash and near-term receivables, combined.
While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Gerresheimer has a market capitalization of €2.84b, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.
We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.
Gerresheimer has net debt to EBITDA of 3.1 suggesting it uses a fair bit of leverage to boost returns. But the high interest coverage of 7.2 suggests it can easily service that debt. We note that Gerresheimer grew its EBIT by 21% in the last year, and that should make it easier to pay down debt, going forward. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine Gerresheimer's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.
Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So it's worth checking how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. Over the last three years, Gerresheimer reported free cash flow worth 3.9% of its EBIT, which is really quite low. That limp level of cash conversion undermines its ability to manage and pay down debt.
Gerresheimer's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow and net debt to EBITDA definitely weigh on it, in our esteem. But the good news is it seems to be able to grow its EBIT with ease. Looking at all the angles mentioned above, it does seem to us that Gerresheimer is a somewhat risky investment as a result of its debt. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. 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. These risks can be hard to spot. Every company has them, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Gerresheimer you should know about.
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.
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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.
Gerresheimer AG, together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells medicine packaging, drug delivery devices, and solutions worldwide.
Reasonable growth potential second-rate dividend payer.