Archive for the ‘Valuation’ Category.


I covered my approach to estimating the appropriate PE for a stock and reverse engineering the current valuations in the previous posts. This is ofcourse not the approach taken by analysts. The typical approach is to look at the past history and decide on the likely earnings (and not even free cash flow). If the analyst is optimisitic he slaps on a high PE and voila ..we have the price target.

To support the argument, the analyst does a comparison with other companies in the sector and tries to justify the PE. So we may have an optimisitic earnings estimate and on top of that a high PE attached to it, which would amount to double counting.

That is an incomplete approach. If the sector is in a bull run or has very high valuation then you are committing the same mistake twice. First assuming an optimistic estimate of earnings and then applying a high PE. Don’t believe me ? …well several IT companies sold for a PE of 100 in 2000 and real estate and capital goods companies sell for similar high valuations. Average PE for IT companies is now below 20 and mid caps in IT sometimes sell for less than 10 times.

This brings me to some interesting observations which you can derieve from this table below

For a company to justify a PE of 30+ the following has to happen – The company has to grow a more than 15-18% per annum for 9-10 years and maintain a ROE or ROC of 15% or higher. That would justify the PE of 30. If a company sells for that PE, then for you to make money the company has to do better than that. PE ratios of higher than 40, require higher growth, higher ROC and much longer CAPs.

Is that likely ? well it can happen …but don’t bet on that. Industries which have high growths and high ROC tend to attract a lot of competiton which drives the returns down. That’s a given rule of economics.

As a result I am wary of companies having a high PE. To justify an investment, the company has do better than the implied value (which you can get from the table above).

Final point – I have put comments on the right of the table with color schemes. Red means stay away for me !


I discussed my approach on evaluating PE ratios (see here). In addition based on the table shown in the previous post, we can work out the assumptions built into the stock price in terms of the ROC, CAP and growth rates. These variables can be compared with the actual and expected results of the company to decide if the stock is undervalued or not.

Sounds easy in concept, and it is if you understand the company and the industry well. This approach is also called as expectations investing and I learnt about it in the book -.expectationsinvesting . I would recommend reading this book to understand DCF and the previous post better.The above approach is a very useful tool in analysing a company. Let me give two examples.

Example A – CRISIL . This company sells for a PE of almost 60+. The embedded expectations are
ROC – 25% (current value)
Profit growth ( Net profit = Free cash flow) – 18% p.a for last 6 years
CAP – 20 years

Basically the company needs to grow at 18% per annum for the next 20 years and maintain the ROC. The company would be earning a net profit of almost 1000 odd crores by then. To make money on the stock in long run, one has to believe that the company will do better than what is implied by the stock price. Will the company do as good or better than implied above? I don’t know and certainly not comfortable or confident of a company to do this well for such a long period of time.

Example B – Novartis. The company sells for an adjusted PE (take cash out from mcap) of around 7.
ROC – 50% +
Profit growth – around 10% per annum for last 6 years
CAP (implied) – 0 years (if you assume terminal value at 10-12 times cash flow).

Basically the company sells for 7 times earnings. Current earnings are around 90 crores on a very low capital base. In addition the company has strong competitive advantage. So with a mcap of around 600 odd crores, the company will earn the current investment back in 5 years. The market is current pricing novartis with an assumption that the company will be out of business in 4-5 years.

I have given the two examples for illustrative purposes only. It does not mean that the stock will do well for novartis in the next few months or do badly for Crisil. But the above analysis is useful in making investment decisions.


I had done a quick valuation exercise of MRO-TEK earlier (see here). I used a certain PE ratio in the post and said that I would explain my approach later. So here it goes …

To understand my approach, you have to look at the file Quantitative calculation and worksheets – cap analysis and ROC and PE. You download this file from the google groups
The worksheet ‘ROC and PE’ has DCF (discounted cash flow model) scenarios for various businesses such as Low growth, high ROC (return on capital ). For ex: Like Merck or high growth and high ROC like infosys etc.

As you can see in excel screenshot, I have put a growth of around 10% in Free cash flow, ROC of 40% and calculated the Intrinsic value (or Net present value). The ratio of the NPV/current earnings gives a rough value of PE for the above assumptions

Now I have used various assumptions of growth, ROC etc and created the matrix below (CAP analysis worksheet in the same file)

The above is for a matrix of ROC (return of capital = 15%). I have varied the growth and CAP (Competitive advantage period).

As you would expect, if growth increases, so does the intrinsic value and the PE. If the ROC increases the same happens. This is however ignored by most analysts and sometimes the market too. This is where opportunity lies sometimes. The third variable – CAP also behaves the same. Higher the period for which the company can maintain the CAP, higher the intrinsic value and higher the PE. CAP or competitive advantage period is not available from any annual report or data. It is the period for which the company can maintain an ROC above the cost of capital. For a better understanding of CAP, read this article – measuringthemoat from google groups. It’s a great article and a must read if you want to deepen your understanding of CAP and DCF based valuation approach.

As I was saying, CAP is diffcult to estimate as it depends on various factors such as the nature of industry, competitive threats etc. I usually assume a CAP of 5-8 years in my valuations. If it turns out to be more than that, then it serves as a margin of safety.

Now when I look at the company, I use the worksheet ‘ROC and PE’ and my thought process (simplified) is as follows

1. Look at ROC – does the company have an ROE or ROC of greater than 13-14% ? If yes, is it sustainable (this is subjective).
2. Use the above worksheet to select a specific ROC sceanrio.
3. What has been the growth for the company in the last 8-10 years. What is the likely growth (again subjective estimates).
4. What is the likely CAP? This is a very subjective exercise and requires studying the company and industry in detail. If the company checks out, I usually take a CAP of 5-6 years.
5. Plug the ROC, growth, CAP and current EPS numbers in the appropriate sceanrio and check the PE. That is the rough PE for the instrinsic estimate.
6. Check if the current price is 50% of the instrinsic value
7. Cross check valuation via comparitive valuations and other approaches.

If all the above checkout, it is time to pull the trigger.

In case the above has not bored you to tears, 🙂

Next posts: Some conclusions from table for CAP v/s PE v/s Growth (CAP analysis worksheet), pointers on DCF etc etc.