Benjamin Graham taught that Intelligent Investors must do a thorough fundamental analysis of investment opportunities to determine their intrinsic value and inherent risk. This is best done by utilizing a systematic approach to analysis that will provide investors with a sense of how a specific company compares to another company or by reviewing the 5 Undervalued Companies for the Defensive Investor Near 52 Week Lows – September 2014. By using the ModernGraham method one can review a company’s historical accomplishments and determine an intrinsic value that can be compared across industries. What follows is a specific look at how Staples Inc. (SPLS) fares in the ModernGraham valuation model.
Company Profile (obtained from Google Finance): Staples, Inc. (Staples) is an office products company. The Company operates in three business segments: North American Stores & Online, North American Commercial and International Operations. The Company’s North American Commercial segment consists of the United States and Canadian businesses that sell and deliver office products and services directly to businesses and includes Staples Advantage and Quill.com. The Company’s International Operations segment consists of businesses in 23 countries in Europe, Australia, South America and Asia. The Company offers more than 10,000 own brand products and services, including an assortment of products with various environmental attributes, which includes its Sustainable Earth brand products. In October 2013, Staples Inc completed the acquisition of Runa. In July 2014, Staples acquired PNI Digital Media Inc.
Defensive Investor – must pass at least 6 of the following 7 tests: Score = 4/7
- Adequate Size of Enterprise – market capitalization of at least $2 billion – PASS
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition – current ratio greater than 2 – FAIL
- Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 10 straight years – FAIL
- Dividend Record – has paid a dividend for at least 10 straight years – PASS
- Earnings Growth – earnings per share has increased by at least 1/3 over the last 10 years using 3 year averages at beginning and end of period – FAIL
- Moderate PEmg ratio – PEmg is less than 20 – PASS
- Moderate Price to Assets – PB ratio is less than 2.5 or PB x PEmg is less than 50 – PASS
Enterprising Investor – must pass at least 4 of the following 5 tests or be suitable for a defensive investor: Score = 3/5
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 1 – current ratio greater than 1.5 – PASS
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 2 – Debt to Net Current Assets ratio less than 1.1 – PASS
- Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 5 years – FAIL
- Dividend Record – currently pays a dividend – PASS
- Earnings growth – EPSmg greater than 5 years ago – FAIL
|Value Based on 3% Growth||$11.72|
|Value Based on 0% Growth||$6.87|
|Market Implied Growth Rate||3.82%|
|Net Current Asset Value (NCAV)||$0.34|
Balance Sheet – 6/30/2014
Earnings Per Share
Earnings Per Share – ModernGraham
Staples does not qualify for either the Defensive Investor or the Enterprising Investor. The Defensive Investor has concerns with the low current ratio and the lack of earnings stability or growth over the last ten years. The Enterprising Investor is also concerned by the lack of earnings stability or growth over the last five years. As a result, value investors following the ModernGraham approach based on Benjamin Graham’s methods should explore other opportunities at this time. From a valuation perspective, the company appears to be overvalued after seeing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) drop from $1.17 in 2010 to an estimated $0.81 for 2014. This drop in earnings earnings clearly does not support the market’s implied estimate of 3.82% earnings growth and leads the ModernGraham valuation model, based on Benjamin Graham’s formula, to return an estimate of intrinsic value below the price.
The next part of the analysis is up to individual investors, and requires discussion of the company’s prospects. What do you think? What value would you put on Staples Inc. (SPLS)? Where do you see the company going in the future? Is there a company you like better? Leave a comment on our Facebook page or mention @ModernGraham on Twitter to discuss.
Disclaimer: The author did not hold a position in Staples Inc. (SPLS) or in any other company mentioned in this article at the time of publication and had no intention of changing that position within the next 72 hours. Logo taken from Wikipedia for the sole purpose of identifying the company; this article is not affiliated with the company in any manner.