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‘Aggressive’ NMC lifts profits and margin as expansion pays off

NMC, the health care group, boosted its earnings last year despite a rise in net debt and financing costs. (Photo courtesy of NMC)
LONDON: UAE private health care operator NMC boosted profit and revenue in 2017 following acquisitions but net debt and financing costs shot up as expansion led to rise in borrowings.
The number of beds at its private hospitals increased from 679 to 1,365, up 101 percent year on year as growth took off. Net profit rose 38 percent to $209 million and revenue grew by a third to $1.6 billion.
Expansion meant net debt increased during the year from $431.3 million to more than $ 1billion, in line with management’s expectations.
“Net debt was equivalent to 2.9 times EBITDA (earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortization), remaining at a very comfortable level relative to the group’s cash flow generation capacity,” said a company statement.
The debt increase was “largely attributed to the acquisitions made during the year”.
The group’s largest acquisition during 2017 was the purchase of Al-Zahra Hospital that was financed via borrowings, but also utilized the proceeds of a share placing raising $322 million in December 2016.
Total finance costs for were $63.8 million compared to $41.7 million in 2016. “This was mainly on account of the higher facility amount availed to refinance the existing debts as well as to finance the acquisitions,” said the company.
It added: “Overall, our growth in revenue and improved profitability are attributed to both an improvement in performance of our existing hospitals and medical facilities and the acquisitions made within the Middle East, Europe and South America over the last 2 years.”
Pursuing an “aggressive international expansion program from 2016”, the company now has over 35 percent of its licensed bed capacity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the company has introduced long-term and multi-specialty care services. The enlarged group received over 5.7m patients in 2017.
Prasanth Manghat, CEO said: “We see 2017 as setting the stage for many more years of growth for the company and we begin 2018 with confidence.”
Higher margins associated with the health care business continued to elevate overall group margins, with consolidated EBITDA margin reaching 22 percent in 2017, up 180 basis points year on year, added Manghat.
With the health care division remaining the primary focus of NMC’s organic and inorganic expansion plans going forward, “the trend of increasing contribution from this segment to group’s revenues and profitability is expected to continue for the foreseeable future”.
NMC is a constituent of London’s FTSE 100 Index where the shares fell 3 percent on Wednesday.

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