Stock Analysis

Is Prestige Consumer Healthcare (NYSE:PBH) A Risky Investment?

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NYSE:PBH
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Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a 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. Importantly, Prestige Consumer Healthcare Inc. (NYSE:PBH) does carry debt. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

Why Does Debt Bring Risk?

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. Having said that, the most common situation is where a company manages its debt reasonably well - and to its own advantage. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

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What Is Prestige Consumer Healthcare's Debt?

The chart below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that Prestige Consumer Healthcare had US$1.60b in debt in September 2021; about the same as the year before. However, because it has a cash reserve of US$42.8m, its net debt is less, at about US$1.56b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:PBH Debt to Equity History February 3rd 2022

A Look At Prestige Consumer Healthcare's Liabilities

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Prestige Consumer Healthcare had liabilities of US$148.9m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$2.07b due beyond that. On the other hand, it had cash of US$42.8m and US$146.6m worth of receivables due within a year. So its liabilities total US$2.02b more than the combination of its cash and short-term receivables.

This is a mountain of leverage relative to its market capitalization of US$2.93b. 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). 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).

Prestige Consumer Healthcare's debt is 4.4 times its EBITDA, and its EBIT cover its interest expense 4.5 times over. This suggests that while the debt levels are significant, we'd stop short of calling them problematic. Prestige Consumer Healthcare grew its EBIT by 5.3% in the last year. That's far from incredible but it is a good thing, when it comes to paying off debt. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Prestige Consumer Healthcare 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.

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. Over the most recent three years, Prestige Consumer Healthcare recorded free cash flow worth 68% of its EBIT, which is around normal, given free cash flow excludes interest and tax. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Neither Prestige Consumer Healthcare's ability handle its debt, based on its EBITDA, nor its level of total liabilities gave us confidence in its ability to take on more debt. But the good news is it seems to be able to convert EBIT to free cash flow with ease. We think that Prestige Consumer Healthcare's debt does make it a bit risky, after considering the aforementioned data points together. Not all risk is bad, as it can boost share price returns if it pays off, but this debt risk is worth keeping in mind. 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 1 warning sign with Prestige Consumer Healthcare , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

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.

What are the risks and opportunities for Prestige Consumer Healthcare?

Prestige Consumer Healthcare Inc., together with its subsidiaries, develops, manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells over-the-counter (OTC) health and personal care products in the United States and internationally.

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Rewards

  • Trading at 42.5% below our estimate of its fair value

  • Earnings are forecast to grow 5.13% per year

  • Earnings grew by 11.4% over the past year

Risks

  • Debt is not well covered by operating cash flow

  • Significant insider selling over the past 3 months

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Prestige Consumer Healthcare

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