Investor's Guide – Key Insights on HCA Healthcare

A strong performer from today's afternoon trading session is HCA Healthcare, whose shares rose 2.3% to $325.97 per share. For those of you thinking about investing in the stock, here is a brief value analysis of the stock using the company's basic fundamental ratios.

HCA Healthcare's Valuation Is in Line With Its Sector Averages:

HCA Healthcare, Inc., through its subsidiaries, owns and operates hospitals and related healthcare entities in the United States. The company belongs to the Health Care sector, which has an average price to earnings (P/E) ratio of 30.21. In contrast, HCA Healthcare has a trailing 12 month P/E ratio of 16.3 based on its earnings per share of $20.04.

There is an important limit on the usefulness of P/E ratios. Since the P/E ratio is the share price divided by earnings per share, the ratio is determined partially by market sentiment on the stock. Sometimes a negative sentiment translates to a lower market price and therefore a lower P/E ratio -- and there might be good reasons for this negative sentiment.

One of the main reasons not to blindly invest in a company with a low P/E ratio is that it might have low growth expectations. Low growth correlates with low stock performance, so it's useful to factor growth into the valuation process. One of the easiest ways to do this is to divide the company's P/E ratio by its expected growth rate, which results in the price to earnings growth, or PEG ratio.

HCA Healthcare's PEG ratio is 1.54, which shows that the stock is overvalued in terms of its estimated growth. For reference, a PEG ratio near or below 1 is a potential signal that a company is undervalued.

The Company May Be Profitable, but Its Balance Sheet Is Highly Leveraged:

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Revenue (M) $46,677 $51,336 $51,533 $58,752 $60,233 $64,968
Operating Margins 11% 10% 11% 17% 14% 12%
Net Margins 8% 7% 7% 12% 9% 8%
Net Income (M) $3,787 $3,505 $3,754 $6,956 $5,643 $5,242
Net Interest Expense (M) $1,755 $1,824 $1,584 $1,566 $1,741 $1,938
Depreciation & Amort. (M) $2,278 $2,596 $2,721 $2,853 $2,969 $3,077
Diluted Shares (M) 355 348 344 329 295 276
Earnings Per Share $10.66 $10.07 $10.93 $21.16 $19.15 $18.97
EPS Growth n/a -5.53% 8.54% 93.6% -9.5% -0.94%
Avg. Price $108.92 $126.27 $122.49 $213.78 $227.62 $328.455
P/E Ratio 9.99 12.3 11.04 9.93 11.71 17.06
Free Cash Flow (M) $3,188 $3,444 $6,397 $5,382 $4,127 $4,687
CAPEX (M) $3,573 $4,158 $2,835 $3,577 $4,395 $4,744
EV / EBITDA 9.25 9.74 8.67 8.34 9.2 12.02
Total Debt (M) $32,821 $33,722 $31,004 $34,579 $38,084 $39,593
Net Debt / EBITDA 4.25 4.22 3.58 2.61 3.22 3.59
Current Ratio 1.35 1.44 1.42 1.41 1.38 1.18

HCA Healthcare has growing revenues and increasing reinvestment in the business and generally positive cash flows. Additionally, the company's financial statements display decent operating margins with a stable trend and a strong EPS growth trend. However, the firm has a highly leveraged balance sheet. Finally, we note that HCA Healthcare has just enough current assets to cover current liabilities, as shown by its current ratio of 1.18.

The above analysis is intended for educational purposes only and was performed on the basis of publicly available data. It is not to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Any buy, sell, or other recommendations mentioned in the article are direct quotations of consensus recommendations from the analysts covering the stock, and do not represent the opinions of Market Inference or its writers. Past performance, accounting data, and inferences about market position and corporate valuation are not reliable indicators of future price movements. Market Inference does not provide financial advice. Investors should conduct their own review and analysis of any company of interest before making an investment decision.