Capella Education Company Valuation – Initial Coverage $CPLA

Benjamin Graham taught that Intelligent Investors must do a thorough fundamental analysis of investment opportunities to determine their intrinsic value and inherent risk.  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 or by reviewing the 10 Stocks for Using A Benjamin Graham Value Investing Strategy – February 2017.  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 stock analysis showing a specific look at how Capella Education Company (CPLA) fares in the ModernGraham valuation model.

Company Profile (obtained from Google Finance): Capella Education Company is an online postsecondary education services company. The Company’s academic programs are delivered through its subsidiary, Capella University (the University), which is an online academic institution offering online postsecondary education services primarily to working adults. The Company also offers educational programming through its other subsidiaries, including Arden University, Ltd., which is a provider of United Kingdom university distance learning qualifications that markets, develops and delivers these programs across the world; Sophia Learning LLC (Sophia), which supports self-paced learning; Capella Learning Solutions (CLS), provides online training solutions and services to corporate partners, which are delivered through the Company’s online learning platform, and Hackbright Academy, which is a non-degree software engineering school for women. The Company’s subsidiary, DevMountain, LLC, is involved in software coding industry.

CPLA Chart

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Downloadable PDF version of this valuation:

ModernGraham Valuation of CPLA – February 2017

Stage 1: Is this company suitable for the Defensive Investor or the Enterprising Investor?

What kind of Intelligent Investor are you?

Defensive Investor; must pass 6 out of the following 7 tests.
1. Adequate Size of the Enterprise Market Cap > $2Bil $938,291,687 Fail
2. Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition Current Ratio > 2 3.01 Pass
3. Earnings Stability Positive EPS for 10 years prior Pass
4. Dividend Record Dividend Payments for 10 years prior Fail
5. Earnings Growth Increase of 33% in EPS in past 10 years using 3 year averages at beginning and end 80.00% Pass
6. Moderate PEmg Ratio PEmg < 20 25.76 Fail
7. Moderate Price to Assets PB Ratio < 2.5 OR PB*PEmg < 50 4.91 Fail
Enterprising Investor; must pass 4 out of the following 5 tests, or be suitable for the Defensive Investor.
1. Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition Current Ratio > 1.5 3.01 Pass
2. Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition Debt to NCA < 1.1 0.00 Pass
3. Earnings Stability Positive EPS for 5 years prior Pass
4. Dividend Record Currently Pays Dividend Pass
5. Earnings Growth EPSmg greater than 5 years ago Pass

Stage 2: Determination of Intrinsic Value

EPSmg $3.24
MG Growth Estimate 1.18%
MG Value $35.11
Opinion Overvalued
MG Grade C-
MG Value based on 3% Growth $46.91
MG Value based on 0% Growth $27.50
Market Implied Growth Rate 8.63%
Current Price $83.35
% of Intrinsic Value 237.37%

Capella Education Company is suitable for the Enterprising Investor but not the more conservative Defensive Investor. The Defensive Investor is concerned with the small size, poor dividend history, and the high PEmg and PB ratios. The Enterprising Investor has no initial concerns. As a result, all Enterprising Investors following the ModernGraham approach should feel comfortable proceeding with the analysis.

As for a valuation, the company appears to be Overvalued after growing its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $3 in 2012 to an estimated $3.24 for 2016. This level of demonstrated earnings growth does not support the market’s implied estimate of 8.63% annual earnings growth over the next 7-10 years. As a result, the ModernGraham valuation model, based on the Benjamin Graham value investing formula, returns an estimate of intrinsic value below the price.

At the time of valuation, further research into Capella Education Company revealed the company was trading above its Graham Number of $37.53. The company pays a dividend of $1.56 per share, for a yield of 1.9% Its PEmg (price over earnings per share – ModernGraham) was 25.76, which was above the industry average of 21.9. Finally, the company was trading above its Net Current Asset Value (NCAV) of $8.57.

Capella Education Company receives an average overall rating in the ModernGraham grading system, scoring a C-.

Stage 3: Information for Further Research

Net Current Asset Value (NCAV) $8.57
Graham Number $37.53
PEmg 25.76
Current Ratio 3.01
PB Ratio 4.91
Current Dividend $1.56
Dividend Yield 1.87%
Number of Consecutive Years of Dividend Growth 4


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Most Recent Balance Sheet Figures

Balance Sheet Information 9/1/2016
Total Current Assets $175,409,000
Total Current Liabilities $58,180,000
Long-Term Debt $0
Total Assets $274,501,000
Intangible Assets $33,986,000
Total Liabilities $74,316,000
Shares Outstanding (Diluted Average) 11,790,000

Earnings Per Share History

EPS History
Next Fiscal Year Estimate $3.60
Dec2015 $3.27
Dec2014 $3.03
Dec2013 $2.80
Dec2012 $2.76
Dec2011 $3.40
Dec2010 $3.64
Dec2009 $2.51
Dec2008 $1.66
Dec2007 $1.33
Dec2006 $1.06
Dec2005 $0.86
Dec2004 $1.62
Dec2003 $0.39
Dec2002 -$0.58
Dec2001 -$1.54

Earnings Per Share – ModernGraham History

EPSmg History
Next Fiscal Year Estimate $3.24
Dec2015 $3.05
Dec2014 $3.00
Dec2013 $3.00
Dec2012 $3.00
Dec2011 $2.92
Dec2010 $2.46
Dec2009 $1.74
Dec2008 $1.34
Dec2007 $1.14
Dec2006 $0.92
Dec2005 $0.62
Dec2004 $0.32
Dec2003 -$0.33
Dec2002 -$0.60
Dec2001 -$0.51

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The author did not hold a position in any company mentioned in this article at the time of publication and had no intention of changing that position within the next 72 hours.  See my current holdings here.  This article is not investment advice; any reader should speak to a registered investment adviser prior to making any investment decisions.  ModernGraham is not affiliated with the company in any manner.  Please be sure to review our detailed disclaimer.

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