Stock Analysis

Bausch Health Companies (NYSE:BHC) Has No Shortage Of Debt

NYSE:BHC
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David Iben put it well when he said, 'Volatility is not a risk we care about. What we care about is avoiding the permanent loss of capital.' 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 Bausch Health Companies Inc. (NYSE:BHC) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

What Risk Does Debt Bring?

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 thing to do when considering how much debt a business uses is to look at its cash and debt together.

See our latest analysis for Bausch Health Companies

How Much Debt Does Bausch Health Companies Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Bausch Health Companies had US$20.8b of debt in December 2022, down from US$22.7b, one year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$564.0m, its net debt is less, at about US$20.2b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:BHC Debt to Equity History April 18th 2023

How Strong Is Bausch Health Companies' Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Bausch Health Companies had liabilities of US$3.94b falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$21.5b due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$564.0m as well as receivables valued at US$1.79b due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$23.1b.

The deficiency here weighs heavily on the US$2.78b company itself, as if a child were struggling under the weight of an enormous back-pack full of books, his sports gear, and a trumpet. So we definitely think shareholders need to watch this one closely. At the end of the day, Bausch Health Companies would probably need a major re-capitalization if its creditors were to demand repayment.

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). 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).

Bausch Health Companies shareholders face the double whammy of a high net debt to EBITDA ratio (7.0), and fairly weak interest coverage, since EBIT is just 1.0 times the interest expense. The debt burden here is substantial. Another concern for investors might be that Bausch Health Companies's EBIT fell 13% in the last year. If that's the way things keep going handling the debt load will be like delivering hot coffees on a pogo stick. 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 Bausch Health Companies'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.

But our final consideration is also important, because a company cannot pay debt with paper profits; it needs cold hard cash. So the logical step is to look at the proportion of that EBIT that is matched by actual free cash flow. In the last three years, Bausch Health Companies's free cash flow amounted to 21% of its EBIT, less than we'd expect. That weak cash conversion makes it more difficult to handle indebtedness.

Our View

To be frank both Bausch Health Companies's interest cover and its track record of staying on top of its total liabilities make us rather uncomfortable with its debt levels. And furthermore, its EBIT growth rate also fails to instill confidence. Considering all the factors previously mentioned, we think that Bausch Health Companies really is carrying too much debt. To our minds, that means the stock is rather high risk, and probably one to avoid; but to each their own (investing) style. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Bausch Health Companies you should be aware of.

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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Find out whether Bausch Health Companies is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.