American Home Products

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“I just don’t like to owe money,” said William F. Laporte when asked about his company’s almost debt-free balance sheet and growing reserves. The exchange took place in 1968, 4 years after Mr. Laporte had taken over as chief executive of American Home Products (AHP). The subsequent

American Home Product Corporation (AHP), a highly growing American company, has four business lines: prescription drugs, packaged drugs, food products, housewares and household products. For a quite long time, AHP has applied a tight financial control and maintained an aggressive capital structure policy. Its mission is to make money for its stockholders and to maximize profits by minimizing costs. It has been able to finance internally its growth while paying a very high portion of its earning to its shareholders (60%).

Currently, AHP seems to have no business risk but may face a certain risk in the long run. Based on the ratios shown on the attached sheet, AHP should not worry about business risk since its working capital is very healthy ($1472.8 million) and cash excess $233 million. The high ROA, high profit margin, low current-to-asset ration and 49.71 collection days show that AHP can generate cash quickly, thus it can maintain current high growth rate. However, its decreasing annual sales growth from 14.1% in 1978 to 8.8% in 1981 (exhibit 1) shows that it faces future risk of losing market shares in all its business lines if it does not foresee competition and continue to focus on increasing stockholders’ value.

AHP’s current financial performance is very good since it has high ROE (30.3), high quick ratio (42.68), low debt-to-equity ratio (0.09) and low debt-to-asset ratio (0.01). However, the pro forma of different debt ratios show that if AHP increases debt ratio, it will face a financial risk of increased debt-to-equity and debt-to-asset ratios. In other words, it will face solvency problems in long terms. AHP also face liquidity...
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