The firm, which provides pharmaceuticals and pharmacy services to long-term care facilities, yesterday launched a hostile bid to buy NeighborCare
For its part, Omnicare is no stranger to acquisitions. In fact, rolling up smaller players has become an integral part of its strategy. Last year, cash spent on purchases amounted to $663 million, compared with $128 million in 2002. The jump is largely attributable to Omnicare's biggest move to date -- its $460 million acquisition of NCS Healthcare, completed in Jan. 2003.
Nonetheless, the buying has continued this year, albeit in less high-profile transactions. In the first quarter, Omnicare used $106 million in cash for several purchases, although it noted that these deals individually or in the aggregate "were not significant." The $1.5 billion NeighborCare deal, though, clearly would be of a different magnitude.
This acquisitiveness has had clear consequences for Omnicare's balance sheet. Long-term debt as of March 31 totaled $1.2 billion, up more than 60% from $720 million in March 2003. Thanks to a complex refinancing last year, though, the firm has kept its interest expenses in check. But if it is able to seal this latest purchase, Omnicare would no doubt take on more debt, given that it had just $174 million in cash at the end of the first quarter.
So far, Omnicare seems to have successfully integrated its purchases, but it bears close watching. With so many deals in such a short period of time, the company may be spreading itself thin.
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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer living in Chicago, Ill. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned here.