In the wake of the great financial crisis it can sometimes be difficult for Intelligent Investors to find a solid financial company in which to invest, because they require specific achievements over the historical period. Many investors may simply decide to throw out the worst years with the rationale that they are outliers that shouldn’t be considered when evaluating the company’s prospects, but doing so would involve speculation. We don’t know whether the financial crisis will happen again, but we do know that if it does, we can expect to see similar results as we did before. By continuing to require the same standards for the historical period, Intelligent Investors are able to widdle down banks to only those with the best financial position, and then they are able to determine an intrinsic value to get a sense of whether the company is a good investment. In addition, a company must have strong financial statements to prove that it is stable enough for Intelligent Investors. 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. 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 Discover Financial Services fares in the ModernGraham valuation model.
Company Profile (obtained from Google Finance): Discover Financial Services is a direct banking and payment services company. The Company is a bank holding company and a financial holding company. The Company offer credit cards, student loans, personal loans and deposit products through its Discover Bank subsidiary and home loans through its Discover Home Loans, Inc. subsidiary (Discover Home Loans). The Company operates the Discover Network, its credit card payments network; the PULSE network (PULSE), its automated teller machine (ATM), debit and electronic funds transfer network, and Diners Club International (Diners Club), its global payments network. The Company operates in two segments: Direct Banking and Payment Services. In June 2012, Tree.Com Inc sold the operating assets of its Home Loan Center, Inc. business to a wholly owned subsidiary of Discover Financial Services.
Defensive Investor – must pass all 6 of the following tests: Score = 5/6
- Adequate Size of Enterprise – market capitalization of at least $2 billion – PASS
- Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 10 straight years – PASS
- Dividend Record – has paid a dividend for at least 10 straight years – FAIL
- 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 – 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 all 3 of the following tests or be suitable for a defensive investor: Score = 3/3
- 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
|Value Based on 3% Growth||$65.45|
|Value Based on 0% Growth||$38.37|
|Market Implied Growth Rate||1.96%|
Balance Sheet – 3/31/2014
Earnings Per Share
Earnings Per Share – ModernGraham
Discover Financial Corp is a company that is intriguing to Enterprising Investors but does not quite qualify for the Defensive Investor. The company has a short history as a publicly traded company and has yet to establish the dividend history the Defensive Investor requires. As a result, Enterprising Investors following the ModernGraham approach based on Benjamin Graham’s methods should feel comfortable proceeding with further research into the company and comparing the company to other opportunities such as through a review of Capital One Financial (COF) and Wells Fargo (WFC). As for the valuation, the company appears to be undervalued after growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $1.78 in 2010 to an estimated $4.51 for 2014. This solid level of demonstrated growth more than supports the market’s implied estimate of 1.96% earnings growth and leads the ModernGraham valuation model to return an estimate of intrinsic value that is well above the market 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 Discover Financial Services (DFS)? 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.
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 Discover Financial Services (DFS) or any of the other companies listed in this article at the time of publication and had no intention of changing that position within the next 72 hours.
Logo taken from the Wikipedia; this article is not affiliated with the company in any manner.