Is GE HealthCare Technologies (NASDAQ:GEHC) A Risky Investment?

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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.’ 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. We can see that GE HealthCare Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ:GEHC) does use debt in its business. But the real question is whether this debt is making the company risky.

When Is Debt Dangerous?

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 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.

See our latest analysis for GE HealthCare Technologies

What Is GE HealthCare Technologies’s Debt?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that GE HealthCare Technologies had debt of US$9.26b at the end of March 2024, a reduction from US$10.2b over a year. However, it does have US$2.55b in cash offsetting this, leading to net debt of about US$6.70b.

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How Strong Is GE HealthCare Technologies’ Balance Sheet?

According to the last reported balance sheet, GE HealthCare Technologies had liabilities of US$8.86b due within 12 months, and liabilities of US$15.8b due beyond 12 months. Offsetting this, it had US$2.55b in cash and US$4.02b in receivables that were due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$18.0b.

GE HealthCare Technologies has a very large market capitalization of US$35.6b, 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.

GE HealthCare Technologies’s net debt is sitting at a very reasonable 1.9 times its EBITDA, while its EBIT covered its interest expense just 5.5 times last year. While these numbers do not alarm us, it’s worth noting that the cost of the company’s debt is having a real impact. GE HealthCare Technologies grew its EBIT by 8.2% in the last year. Whilst that hardly knocks our socks off it is a positive when it comes to 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 GE HealthCare Technologies 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 company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. During the last three years, GE HealthCare Technologies produced sturdy free cash flow equating to 57% of its EBIT, about what we’d expect. This cold hard cash means it can reduce its debt when it wants to.

Our View

Both GE HealthCare Technologies’s ability to to convert EBIT to free cash flow and its EBIT growth rate gave us comfort that it can handle its debt. On the other hand, its level of total liabilities makes us a little less comfortable about its debt. We would also note that Medical Equipment industry companies like GE HealthCare Technologies commonly do use debt without problems. Considering this range of data points, we think GE HealthCare Technologies is in a good position to manage its debt levels. Having said that, the load is sufficiently heavy that we would recommend any shareholders keep a close eye on it. There’s no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet – far from it. For instance, we’ve identified 1 warning sign for GE HealthCare Technologies that you should be aware of.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email [email protected]

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