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Analysis of Mettler-Toledo, the market leader in precision measuring instruments

Jason Bellier
27. 4. 2023
6 min read

The Mettler-Toledo story is one of success and resilience. Founded in 1945, the company has grown to become one of the global market leaders in precision measuring instruments and sensors for nearly 80 years. It has survived many economic cycles, technological changes, geopolitical turbulence and pandemics. This "resistance to time" is a testament to the quality of the company and its products. Can it be a good choice for the future?

Mettler-Toledo International $MTD-0.5% is the world's leading manufacturer of analytical laboratory equipment - measuring instruments, balances and analytical systems that are used in many different industries, including chemistry, pharmacology, food, nanotechnology and farms.

The company's main advantage is its expertise in high-precision measurement. The company has a strong position in manufacturing high sensitivity laboratory measuring instruments such as analytical balances, density meters, particle analyzers and various spectrometers. These instruments require great technological skill and are a source of sustainable competitive advantage for Mettler-Toledo.

The company's top products include analytical balances that provide the highest accuracy, resolution and sensitivity. The company also manufactures a variety of pipettes, pipette tips, burettes, burettes, titrators, refractometers, UV-VIS spectrophotometers and densitometers (it may not tell you much, but these are really necessary products in the mentioned industries).

Mettler-Toledo enjoys strong competitive advantages due to its global presence, its broad portfolio of high-precision products, its long-term customer relationships, its strong R&D position, and acquisitions that bring new technologies and expand the company's geographic presence.

The company operates worldwide and has manufacturing and sales offices in 44 countries. It has the largest share of sales in Europe (34%), North America (33%), Asia Pacific (21%) and Latin America (10%). It is the market leader in analytical laboratory instruments with a market share of around 15%.

Overall, Mettler-Toledo can be characterized as one of the world's leading companies focused on high-precision measurement technology for analytical and research laboratories.

What to expect in the future?

Mettler-Toledo has several key strategic priorities for the future:

1. Expand our product portfolio by developing new and innovative solutions. The company wants to invest in the development of advanced measurement technologies, software and automation to strengthen its market position. This includes acquiring companies with attractive technologies.

2. Increase sales in emerging markets such as China and other Asian countries. These markets are growing rapidly and represent huge potential. Mettler-Toledo wants to strengthen its sales and distribution networks in Asia and target customers in the pharmaceutical, food and materials segments.

3. Expand its services and data-driven solutions. The company sees opportunity in providing service, software and cloud-based solutions that generate recurring revenue. It wants to develop data management, analytics and workflow platforms for customers.

4. To improve operational efficiency and margins. Mettler-Toledo focuses on optimizing costs, streamlining processes, centralizing purchasing and manufacturing functions, and shifting production to lower-cost areas. The aim is to maintain stable growth margins even in an environment of increasing competition and changing market conditions.

5. Maintain a conservative financial policy. The Company intends to continue to generate strong free cash flow, maintain low debt, conduct share repurchases and increase dividends to shareholders.

Finance

MTD
$1,522.75 -$7.80 -0.51%

Mettler-Toledo has experienced strong sales and earnings growth in recent years. The company's revenue grew at a rate of over 7% annually from 2019 to 2022, a solid result. The main drivers of growth were higher sales of instruments and services, acquisitions, and strong demand in emerging markets.

Thecompany's gross margin has increased by approximately 2 percentage points over the past three years to 59%. This is a stable and healthy gross margin that reflects the successful promotion of higher selling prices and lower direct material costs. Notably, however, operating expenses are growing more slowly than sales, leading to an operating margin of 28% in 2022 versus 24% in 2019. The company is investing in sales and marketing to strengthen its market position, but it is controlling operating expenses effectively.

The company is generating strong and growing operating cash flow, and net income has grown 55% over the past three years to reach $872.5 million, or $33 per share, in 2021, up from even higher last year, topping $1 billion.

The company also has a solid annual dividend of 2.8% and a return on assets rate of over 13%, indicating a successful return on capital. Overall, the company's financial position is very healthy with growing sales, earnings and cash flow.

Balance Sheet

The company's total assets have grown at a rate of over 7% per year over the past three years, mainly due to higher current assets and the acquisition of subsidiaries. By 2022, assets will reach $3.5 billion.

Total liabilities grew at a similar rate to assets, reaching $3.5 billion in 2021. The company's net interest-bearing debt increased 78% from 2019 to $1.9 billion in 2022. The company's total debt-to-equity ratio was 80%, which is high, but the company has stable and predictable cash flows to cover its debt.

Shareholders' equity has fallen 41% in recent years to $171 million in 2021 and has fallen even more in 2022, reflecting the company's high dividend and share buybacks.

The company's working capital has shown volatility over time, falling from $355 million in 2019 to $227 million in 2022. This suggests the company had higher short-term debt than current assets to cover its short-term liabilities. However, the working capital to sales ratio remains low, indicating good cash cycles.

Cash Flow

Mettler-Toledo's cash flow shows a strong ability to generate cash:

The company's operating cash flow increased 42% to $859 million between 2019 and 2022. This is a high and stable operating cash flow that indicates a healthy and profitable business with a low working capital requirement.

The company's investing cash flow is negative as the company invests in the acquisition of subsidiaries and tangible assets. However, the net investment is financed by operating cash flows.

The company's financial cash flows are negative because the company pays high dividends and repurchases its own shares. Between 2019 and 2022, the company spent $2.9 billion on dividends and share repurchases.

MTD
$1,522.75 -$7.80 -0.51%
Capital Structure
Market Cap
32.5B
Enterpr. Val.
34.4B
Valuation
P/E
42.7
P/S
8.6
Dividends
Yield
-
Payout
-

Capital Structure

Market Cap
32.52B
Enterpr. Val.
34.43B
Revenue
3.79B
Shares Out.
21.36M
Debt/Capital
1.08
FCF Yield
2.79%

Valuation / Dividends

P/E
42.74
EPS
35.63
P/S
8.56
P/B
-204.98
Div. Yield
-
Div. Payout
-

Capital Eff. / Margins

ROIC
34.96%
ROE
-617.07%
ROA
23.69%
Gross
58.77%
Operating
22.15%
Net Profit
20.55%
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Mettler-Toledo has a high valuation with a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 40, well above the industry average. However, the high valuation reflects the company's strong growth, market dominance, and global presence. The forward P/E of 30 also indicates that the market expects further earnings growth.

The debt-to-equity ratio is 81. However, the company has strong operating cash flow to pay down debt. The company has a market capitalization of $32 billion. When comparing the market capitalization to earnings, sales and free cash flow, the company's valuation is on the higher side.

The ratio of market capitalization to free cash flow (P/FCF) is 43. Thus, overall, I believe Mettler-Toledo stock is slightly overvalued relative to its fundamentals. High growth and market dominance promise healthy earnings potential, but valuations already include much of that potential. For value investors, the stock might appear expensive, but for growth investors it is still attractive. Personally, I would consider buying shares on a price decline.

Analyst expectations

The 12 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Mettler-Toledo International Inc have a median target of 1,519.00, with a high estimate of 1,700.00 and a low estimate of 1,400.00. The median estimate represents a +4.06% increase from the last price of 1,459.74.

  • What do you think of the company? 🤔

Please note that this is not financial advice. Every investment must go through a thorough analysis.


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