AMN Healthcare Services (NYSE:AMN) Seems To Use Debt Rather Sparingly

Published
June 22, 2022
NYSE:AMN
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Howard Marks put it nicely when he said that, rather than worrying about share price volatility, 'The possibility of permanent loss is the risk I worry about... and every practical investor I know worries about.' 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. Importantly, AMN Healthcare Services, Inc. (NYSE:AMN) does carry debt. But should shareholders be worried about its use of debt?

When Is Debt A Problem?

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. However, a more frequent (but still costly) occurrence is where a company must issue shares at bargain-basement prices, permanently diluting shareholders, just to shore up its balance sheet. Of course, plenty of companies use debt to fund growth, without any negative consequences. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

View our latest analysis for AMN Healthcare Services

How Much Debt Does AMN Healthcare Services Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that AMN Healthcare Services had US$842.6m of debt in March 2022, down from US$896.4m, one year before. However, it does have US$113.5m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$729.1m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:AMN Debt to Equity History June 22nd 2022

How Healthy Is AMN Healthcare Services' Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that AMN Healthcare Services had liabilities of US$1.15b due within a year, and liabilities of US$1.02b falling due after that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$113.5m and US$1.27b worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$784.2m more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

Of course, AMN Healthcare Services has a market capitalization of US$4.55b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. However, we do think it is worth keeping an eye on its balance sheet strength, as it may change over time.

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.

AMN Healthcare Services has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 1.1. And its EBIT covers its interest expense a whopping 14.5 times over. So we're pretty relaxed about its super-conservative use of debt. Better yet, AMN Healthcare Services grew its EBIT by 157% last year, which is an impressive improvement. If maintained that growth will make the debt even more manageable in the years ahead. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But it is future earnings, more than anything, that will determine AMN Healthcare Services's ability to maintain a healthy balance sheet going forward. 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 always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, AMN Healthcare Services recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 82% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That positions it well to pay down debt if desirable to do so.

Our View

AMN Healthcare Services's interest cover suggests it can handle its debt as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo could score a goal against an under 14's goalkeeper. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is also very heartening. It's also worth noting that AMN Healthcare Services is in the Healthcare industry, which is often considered to be quite defensive. It looks AMN Healthcare Services has no trouble standing on its own two feet, and it has no reason to fear its lenders. For investing nerds like us its balance sheet is almost charming. 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. We've identified 3 warning signs with AMN Healthcare Services (at least 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If you're interested in investing in businesses that can grow profits without the burden of debt, then check out this free list of growing businesses that have net cash on the balance sheet.

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