Valuation: Norfolk Southern is Defensive and Undervalued

moneyCompany Profile (obtained from Google Finance): Norfolk Southern Corporation (Norfolk Southern) is a Virginia based company that controls a railroad, Norfolk Southern Railway Company. Norfolk Southern Railway Company is primarily engaged in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products, and finished goods primarily in the Southeast, East, and Midwest and, via interchange with rail carriers, to and from the rest of the United States. Norfolk Southern also transports overseas freight through several Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. It provides logistics services and offers intermodal network in the eastern half of the United States.

Defensive and Enterprising Investor Tests (What is the significance of these tests, and what is PEmg ratio?):

Defensive Investor – must pass at least 6 of the following 7 tests: Score = 6/7

  1. Adequate Size of Enterprise – market capitalization of at least $2 billion – PASS
  2. Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition – current ratio greater than 2 – FAIL
  3. Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 10 straight years – PASS
  4. Dividend Record – has paid a dividend for at least 10 straight years – PASS
  5. 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
  6. Moderate PEmg ratio – PEmg is less than 20 – PASS
  7. 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

  1. Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 1 – current ratio greater than 1.5 – FAIL
  2. Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 2 – Debt to Net Current Assets ratio less than 1.1 – FAIL
  3. Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 5 years – PASS
  4. Dividend Record – currently pays a dividend – PASS
  5. Earnings growth – EPSmg greater than 5 years ago – FAIL

Valuation Summary (Explanation of the ModernGraham Valuation Model)

Key Data:

MG Value $117.09
MG Opinion Undervalued
Value Based on 3% Growth $75.69
Value Based on 0% Growth $44.37
Market Implied Growth Rate 4.16%
NCAV -$60.14
PEmg 16.82
Current Ratio 1.07
PB Ratio 2.63

Balance Sheet – 9/30/2013 

Current Assets $2,494,000,000
Current Liabilities $2,332,000,000
Total Debt $8,499,000,000
Total Assets $31,365,000,000
Intangible Assets $0
Total Liabilities $21,071,000,000
Outstanding Shares 308,910,000

Earnings Per Share – Diluted

2013 (estimate) $5.83
2012 $5.38
2011 $5.55
2010 $4.08
2009 $2.82
2008 $4.52
2007 $3.68
2006 $3.57
2005 $3.11
2004 $2.31
2003 $1.05
2002 $1.18

Earnings Per Share – Modern Graham (Calculating EPSmg)

2013 (estimate) $5.22
2012 $4.77
2011 $4.35
2010 $3.74
2009 $3.56
2008 $3.77


Norfolk Southern appears to be a very solid company that should be on the watch list of all Defensive Investors and Enterprising Investors.  The company passes all of the requirements of the Defensive Investor, except for the current ratio requirement.  While the company doesn’t pass enough of the Enterprising Investor tests as we would like to normally see, since it is suitable for the Defensive Investor, it is by default also suitable for the Enterprising Investor.  From a valuation perspective, the company has achieved solid growth recently, growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $3.56 in 2009 to an estimated $5.22 for 2013.  This level of growth supports a valuation above where the market is currently trading.  As a result, Intelligent Investors should feel comfortable proceeding with further research to determine whether Norfolk Southern would be a good fit for their individual portfolios.

What do you think?  Is Norfolk Southern undervalued?  Is the company suitable for either Defensive Investors or Enterprising Investors?  Leave a comment or mention @ModernGraham on Twitter to discuss.

If you like our valuations, why not check out ModernGraham Stocks & Screens?  It’s a great way to review the valuations while screening for things like low PE ratio, undervalued companies, etc.!

Disclaimer:  The author did not hold a position in Norfolk Southern at the time of publication and had no intention of entering into a position within the next 72 hours.

Photo Credit:  Andrew Magill





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.