REITs often attract a great deal of investors because of their strong cash flows and dividends, and those investors often overlook other parts of the business, choosing to analyze the company under a different set of criteria than companies in other sectors. This can create a problem in that it becomes difficult to compare a REIT to an industrial, which is fine if you use the typical top-down approach to stock selection; however, a top-down approach invites speculation in the fact that you are theorizing which sector will perform well going forward. Benjamin Graham taught that we should avoid speculation as much as possible, which is why it is critical to develop a system for analyzing companies that will allow them to be compared across industries. 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 investment opportunity. 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 American Campus Communities Inc. (ACC) fares in the ModernGraham valuation model.
Company Profile (obtained from Google Finance): American Campus Communities, Inc. is a real estate investment trust (REIT). The Company holds an approximate 98.8% limited partnership interest in American Campus Communities Operating Partnership L.P. The Company owns, manages and develops student housing properties in the United States in terms of beds owned and under management. It is a self-managed and self-administered equity REIT engaged in the acquisition, design, financing, development, construction management, leasing and management of student housing properties. The Company’s total owned and third-party managed portfolio includes approximately 204 properties with 130,700 beds in 44,300 units. Its property portfolio consists of approximately 145 owned off-campus student housing properties. It operates under four segments: Wholly-Owned Properties, On-Campus Participating Properties, Development Services and Property Management Services.
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 – PASS
- Moderate PEmg ratio – PEmg is less than 20 – FAIL
- 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 – FAIL
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 2 – Debt to Net Current Assets ratio less than 1.1 – FAIL
- Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 5 years – PASS
- Dividend Record – currently pays a dividend – PASS
- Earnings growth – EPSmg greater than 5 years ago – PASS
|MG Opinion||Fairly Valued|
|Value Based on 3% Growth||$18.42|
|Value Based on 0% Growth||$10.80|
|Market Implied Growth Rate||10.47%|
|Net Current Asset Value (NCAV)||-$25.77|
Balance Sheet – March 2015
Earnings Per Share
Earnings Per Share – ModernGraham
American Campus Communities Inc. is not suitable for either the Enterprising Investor or the more conservative Defensive Investor. The Defensive Investor is concerned with the low current ratio, insufficient earnings stability over the last ten years, and the high PEmg ratio. The Enterprising Investor is concerned with the high level of debt relative to the current assets. As a result, all value investors following the ModernGraham approach should explore other opportunities at this time or proceed cautiously with a speculative attitude. From a valuation side of things, the company appears to be fairly valued after growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $0.23 in 2011 to an estimated $1.27 for 2015. This level of growth supports the market’s implied estimate of 10.47% annual earnings growth over the next 7-10 years, leading the ModernGraham valuation model to return an estimate of intrinsic value falling within a margin of safety relative to the current 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 American Campus Communities Inc. (ACC)? 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 any company mentioned in the article at the time of publication and had no intention of changing that position within the next 72 hours. Logo taken from wikipedia; this article is not affiliated with the company in any manner.