With a market cap upwards of $13 billion, for-profit educator Apollo Group's
Which got me to thinking: Large cap or no, as unloved as it's becoming, Apollo may be worth a look. So without further ado, let's grab a copy of Apollo's fiscal 2004 earnings release (issued yesterday) and run the company's numbers through our 7 Steps for grading potential gems. Show us the value, Apollo!
We've covered this. Apollo is no small-cap.
Enterprise value-to-free cash flow
After you subtract Apollo's cash and equivalents from its market cap, and add back its miniscule long-term debt, the company sports an enterprise value of $12.7 billion. Divide that by its $400 million in free cash flow, and you wind up with an EV/FCF ratio of 32 -- three times our target level of 10 or under.
Projected earnings growth and recent ROE
Despite all the negative news about the for-profit educators engendered by recent lawsuits and federal investigations at peers ITT Educational Services
EV/FCF/G and EV/FCF/ROE
Under both of the methods we use to evaluate a company's cheapness -- its EV/FCF as compared with its projected growth rate, or its return on equity -- the company fails the test, scoring, respectively, a 1.3 and a 1.2, while we are looking for something under 1.0.
Share dilution simply does not happen at Apollo. Over the past five years, shares outstanding have risen a total of just 1.1%. Compare that to the ignominious report cards received by serial diluters Intel
Even dyed-in-the-wool small-cap Hidden Gems aficionados have to admire the capital gains that large-cap Apollo shareholders racked up before its recent slide. Considering the company's copious free cash flow generation, its high level of insider ownership, and its almost total lack of share dilution, this is a company to keep on your investing radar. The valuation isn't quite as low as we'd like it to be, but given time, the market may discount Apollo further. Be ready if it does.
While waiting for Apollo's price to come down further, use the time to educate yourself about the for-profit education sector's legal woes. Read all about it in: