Quest Diagnostics Inc. (NYSE:DGX) may attract some investors, due to the company’s history of dividend growth. Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, taught that looking at the price cannot be the sole factor in investment decisions, as the most important aspect to consider is whether the company is trading at a discount relative to its intrinsic value. It is through a thorough fundamental analysis that the investor is able to make a determination about a potential investment’s merits. Here is a look at how the company fares in the ModernGraham valuation model.
The model is inspired by the teachings of Benjamin Graham, and considers numerous metrics intended to help the investor reduce risk levels. The first part of the analysis is to determine whether the company is suitable for the very conservative Defensive Investor or the less conservative Enterprising Investor, who is willing to spend a greater amount of time conducting further research.
In addition, Graham strongly suggested that investors avoid speculation, in order to remove the subjective elements of emotion. This is best achieved by utilizing a systematic approach to analysis that will provide investors with a sense of how a specific company compares to another. By using theModernGraham method, one can review a company’s historical accomplishments and determine an intrinsic value that can be compared across industries.
DGX data by YCharts
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Defensive Investor – Must pass at least 6 of the following 7 tests: Score = 6/7
- 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 – PASS
- Dividend Record – Has paid a dividend for at least 10 straight years – PASS
- Earnings Growth – Earnings per share has increased by at least 1/3rd over the last 10 years, using 3-year averages at the beginning and end of the period – PASS
- Moderate PEmg (price over normalized earnings) 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 = 4/5
- 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 – PASS
- 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||$59.43|
|Value Based on 0% Growth||$34.84|
|Market Implied Growth Rate||5.04%|
|Net Current Asset Value (NCAV)||-$26.84|
Balance Sheet – December 2014
Earnings Per Share
Earnings Per Share – ModernGraham
DGX Dividend data by YCharts
Quest Diagnostics Inc. passes the initial requirements of both the Defensive Investor and the Enterprising Investor. Both investor types are only initially concerned with the low current ratio. As a result, all value investors should feel very comfortable proceeding to the next part of the analysis, which is a determination of the company’s intrinsic value.
When it comes to that valuation, it is critical to consider the company’s earnings history. In this case, the company has grown its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $3.40 in 2010 to $4.10 for 2014. This is a strong level of demonstrated growth, but it does not support the market’s implied estimate for earnings growth of 5.04% annually over the next 7-10 years. The ModernGraham valuation model reduces the historical growth to a more conservative figure, assuming that some slowdown will occur, and returns an estimate of intrinsic value falling below the current price, indicating the company is overvalued at the present time.