W.W. Grainger Inc.Â (GWW, Financial) has shown very strong earnings growth over the last few years and has a healthy dividend, factors which may garner some attention from prospective investors. However, Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, taught that 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.
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 the ModernGraham method, one can review a company's historical accomplishments and determine an intrinsic value that can be compared across industries.
Defensive Investor – Must pass at least six of the following seven tests: Score = 5/7
- Adequate Size of Enterprise – Market capitalization of at least $2 billion – PASS
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition – Current ratio greater than 2 – 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 – PASS
- Earnings Growth – Earnings per share has increased by at least one-third over the last 10 years, using three-year averages at the beginning and end of the period – PASS
- Moderate PEmg (price over normalized earnings) Ratio – PEmg is less than 20 – FAIL
- Moderate Price-to-Assets – PB ratio is less than 2.5 or PB x PEmg is less than 50 – FAIL
Enterprising Investor – Must pass at least 4 of the following 5 tests to be suitable for a Defensive Investor: Score = 5/5
- Sufficiently Strong Financial Condition, Part 1 – Current ratio greater than 1.5 – PASS
- 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 that 5 years ago – PASS
|MG Opinion||Fairly Valued|
|Value Based on 3% Growth||$160.76|
|Value Based on 0% Growth||$94.24|
|Market Implied Growth Rate||6.22%|
|Net Current Asset Value (NCAV)||$12.78|
Balance Sheet - March 2015
Earnings Per Share
Earnings Per Share - ModernGraham
W.W. Grainger passes the initial requirements of the Enterprising Investor but not the more conservative Defensive Investor. The Defensive Investor is concerned with the high PEmg and PB ratios. The Enterprising Investor has no initial concerns. As a result, all Enterprising 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, it has grown its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $7.12 in 2011 to an estimated $11.09 for 2015. This level of demonstrated growth supports the market's implied estimate for annual earnings growth of 6.22% over the next 7-10 years.
In recent years, the company's actual growth in EPSmg has averaged around 11.14% annually. The ModernGraham valuation model reduces the actual growth to a more conservative figure when making an estimate, but still returns an estimate of intrinsic value within a margin of safety relative to the current price, indicating that W.W. Grainger is fairly valued at the present time.