Benjamin Graham taught that Intelligent Investors must do a thorough fundamental analysis of investment opportunities to determine their intrinsic value and inherent risk. Â This isÂ best done by utilizing a systematic approach to analysis that will provide investors with a sense of how a specific company compares to another companyÂ or by reviewing theÂ 5 Most Undervalued Companies for the Defensive Investor – AprilÂ 2015.Â By using theÂ ModernGraham methodÂ one can review a company’s historical accomplishments and determine an intrinsic value that can be compared across industries. Â What follows is a specific look at how FirstEnergy Corporation (FE)Â fares in theÂ ModernGraham valuation model.
Company ProfileÂ (obtained fromÂ Google Finance): FirstEnergy Corp. is a holding company. The Company is a diversified energy company. The Company operates in three segments: regulated distribution, regulated transmission and competitive energy services segment. The Companyâ€™s Regulated Distribution segment distributes electricity through the Company’s 10 utility operating companies, serving approximately six million customers within 65,000 square miles of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. The Companyâ€™ s Regulated Transmission segment transmits electricity through transmission facilities owned and operated by ATSI, TrAIL, and certain of FirstEnergy’s utilities (JCP&L, ME, PN, MP, PE and WP). The Companyâ€™s Competitive Energy Services segment, through FES and AE Supply, supplies electricity to end-use customers through retail and wholesale arrangements, including competitive retail sales to customers primarily in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Maryland.
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 -Â PASS
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition – current ratio greater than 2 -Â FAIL
- Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 10 straight years -Â PASS
- Dividend Record – has paid a dividend for at least 10 straight years -Â 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 -Â FAIL
- Moderate PEmg ratio – PEmg is less than 20 -Â FAIL
- Moderate Price to Assets – PB ratio is less than 2.5 or PB x PEmg is less than 50 -Â PASS
Enterprising Investor – must pass at least 4Â of the following 5 tests or be suitable for a defensive investor: Score = 2/5
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 1 – current ratio greater than 1.5 -Â FAIL
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 2 – Debt to Net Current Assets ratio less than 1.1 -Â FAIL
- Earnings Stability – positive earnings per share for at least 5 years -Â PASS
- Dividend Record – currently pays a dividend -Â PASS
- Earnings growth – EPSmg greater than 5 years ago -Â FAIL
|Value Based on 3% Growth||$23.35|
|Value Based on 0% Growth||$13.69|
|Market Implied Growth Rate||6.65%|
|Net Current Asset Value (NCAV)||-$85.49|
Balance Sheet – MarchÂ 2015
Earnings Per Share
Earnings Per ShareÂ – ModernGraham
FirstEnergyÂ is not suitableÂ for either the Defensive Investor or the Enterprising Investor. Â The Defensive Investor is concerned with the low current ratio, insufficient earnings growth over the last ten years, and the poor PEmg ratio. Â The Enterprising Investor is concerned with the level of debt relative to the current assets and the lack of earningsÂ growthÂ over the last five years. Â As a result, value investorsÂ following the ModernGraham approach based on Benjamin Graham’s methods should exploreÂ other opportunities. Â As for a valuation,Â the company appears to be overvalued afterÂ seeingÂ its EPSmg (normalized earnings) drop from $2.91 in 2011 to only an estimated $1.61 for 2015. Â This level of growth does not support the market’s implied estimate of 6.65% growth, leading the ModernGrahamÂ valuation model, based on Benjamin Graham’s formula, to return an estimate of intrinsic value well belowÂ the price.
The next part of the analysis is up to individual investors, and requires discussion of the company’s prospects. Â What do you think? Â What value would you put on FirstEnergy Corporation (FE)? Â Where do you see the company going in the future? Â Is there a company you like better? Â Leave aÂ comment on ourÂ Facebook pageÂ or mentionÂ @ModernGrahamÂ on Twitter to discuss.
Disclaimer: Â The author did not hold aÂ position in any company mentioned in this articleÂ at the time of publication and had no intention of changing that position within the next 72 hours. Â Logo taken from Wikipedia for the sole purpose of identifying the company; this article is not affiliated with the company in any manner.