OPKO Health (NASDAQ:OPK) Has A Pretty Healthy Balance Sheet

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 12, 2022
NasdaqGS:OPK
Source: Shutterstock

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, OPKO Health, Inc. (NASDAQ:OPK) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

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. Part and parcel of capitalism is the process of 'creative destruction' where failed businesses are mercilessly liquidated by their bankers. 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. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

View our latest analysis for OPKO Health

How Much Debt Does OPKO Health Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that OPKO Health had debt of US$202.1m at the end of September 2021, a reduction from US$235.9m over a year. However, it also had US$148.6m in cash, and so its net debt is US$53.5m.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NasdaqGS:OPK Debt to Equity History January 12th 2022

How Healthy Is OPKO Health's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that OPKO Health had liabilities of US$283.0m due within a year, and liabilities of US$369.0m falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$148.6m as well as receivables valued at US$265.5m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$237.9m.

Of course, OPKO Health has a market capitalization of US$3.13b, so these liabilities are probably manageable. But there are sufficient liabilities that we would certainly recommend shareholders continue to monitor the balance sheet, going forward.

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). 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 OPKO Health's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 0.30 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 5.0 times last year does give us pause. But the interest payments are certainly sufficient to have us thinking about how affordable its debt is. We also note that OPKO Health improved its EBIT from a last year's loss to a positive US$99m. 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 OPKO Health 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, while the tax-man may adore accounting profits, lenders only accept cold hard cash. So it is important to check how much of its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) converts to actual free cash flow. Looking at the most recent year, OPKO Health recorded free cash flow of 46% of its EBIT, which is weaker than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

On our analysis OPKO Health's net debt to EBITDA should signal that it won't have too much trouble with its debt. However, our other observations weren't so heartening. For example, its interest cover makes us a little nervous about its debt. When we consider all the elements mentioned above, it seems to us that OPKO Health is managing its debt quite well. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. 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. Be aware that OPKO Health is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , 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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