Stock Analysis

Does IQVIA Holdings (NYSE:IQV) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet?

NYSE:IQV
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Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' When we think about how risky a company is, we always like to look at its use of debt, since debt overload can lead to ruin. As with many other companies IQVIA Holdings Inc. (NYSE:IQV) makes use of debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt is a tool to help businesses grow, but if a business is incapable of paying off its lenders, then it exists at their mercy. 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, 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.

Check out our latest analysis for IQVIA Holdings

What Is IQVIA Holdings's Net Debt?

As you can see below, at the end of December 2022, IQVIA Holdings had US$12.7b of debt, up from US$12.1b a year ago. Click the image for more detail. However, it does have US$1.31b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$11.4b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:IQV Debt to Equity History March 5th 2023

How Healthy Is IQVIA Holdings' Balance Sheet?

Zooming in on the latest balance sheet data, we can see that IQVIA Holdings had liabilities of US$5.58b due within 12 months and liabilities of US$14.0b due beyond that. Offsetting this, it had US$1.31b in cash and US$2.96b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities total US$15.3b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

IQVIA Holdings has a very large market capitalization of US$41.0b, so it could very likely raise cash to ameliorate its balance sheet, if the need arose. But it's clear that we should definitely closely examine whether it can manage its debt without dilution.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

IQVIA Holdings's debt is 4.4 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 4.6 times over. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. Also relevant is that IQVIA Holdings has grown its EBIT by a very respectable 29% in the last year, thus enhancing its ability to pay down debt. 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 IQVIA Holdings 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, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Over the last three years, IQVIA Holdings actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT. There's nothing better than incoming cash when it comes to staying in your lenders' good graces.

Our View

Happily, IQVIA Holdings's impressive conversion of EBIT to free cash flow implies it has the upper hand on its debt. But we must concede we find its net debt to EBITDA has the opposite effect. Looking at all the aforementioned factors together, it strikes us that IQVIA Holdings 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. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for IQVIA Holdings you should be aware of, and 1 of them is potentially serious.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether IQVIA Holdings 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.