Owens & Minor (NYSE:OMI) Seems To Use Debt Quite Sensibly

By
Simply Wall St
Published
February 28, 2021
NYSE:OMI
Source: Shutterstock

Warren Buffett famously said, '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. Importantly, Owens & Minor, Inc. (NYSE:OMI) does carry debt. But is this debt a concern to shareholders?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free 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, the upside of debt is that it often represents cheap capital, especially when it replaces dilution in a company with the ability to reinvest at high rates of return. The first step when considering a company's debt levels is to consider its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Owens & Minor

How Much Debt Does Owens & Minor Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Owens & Minor had US$1.03b of debt in December 2020, down from US$1.56b, one year before. However, it does have US$83.1m in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$949.6m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:OMI Debt to Equity History March 1st 2021

A Look At Owens & Minor's Liabilities

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that Owens & Minor had liabilities of US$1.35b due within 12 months and liabilities of US$1.28b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$83.1m and US$700.8m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$1.84b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of US$2.50b. Should its lenders demand that it shore up the balance sheet, shareholders would likely face severe 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.

Owens & Minor's debt is 2.9 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 2.9 times over. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. The silver lining is that Owens & Minor grew its EBIT by 139% last year, which nourishing like the idealism of youth. If that earnings trend continues it will make its debt load much more manageable in the future. 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 Owens & Minor can strengthen its balance sheet over time. 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 business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we clearly need to look at whether that EBIT is leading to corresponding free cash flow. Over the last three years, Owens & Minor recorded free cash flow worth a fulsome 97% of its EBIT, which is stronger than we'd usually expect. That puts it in a very strong position to pay down debt.

Our View

Happily, Owens & Minor's impressive conversion of EBIT to free cash flow implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But the stark truth is that we are concerned by its interest cover. We would also note that Healthcare industry companies like Owens & Minor commonly do use debt without problems. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that Owens & Minor can handle its debt fairly comfortably. On the plus side, this leverage can boost shareholder returns, but the potential downside is more risk of loss, so it's worth monitoring the balance sheet. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. We've identified 4 warning signs with Owens & Minor (at least 1 which is a bit concerning) , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

When all is said and done, sometimes its easier to focus on companies that don't even need debt. Readers can access a list of growth stocks with zero net debt 100% free, right now.

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