If you're on the hunt for undervalued companies with encouraging accounting information, the following may be a good starting point for your search.
We started with a universe of companies that have reported rising gross margins year over year for the past three years. Gross Margin is the percentage of profits a company makes for each dollar generated in sales after paying all production expenses. Costs include overhead, payroll, and taxation.
Gross Margin = Gross Profit / Revenue
The higher the percentage, the greater the gross profits taken from revenue. A rising gross margin often indicates a company is better able to control its costs.
The Graham Equation
Next we searched for companies that appear undervalued when applying the Graham Number. The Graham number is a value equation created by the "godfather of value investing," Benjamin Graham. The equation calculates the maximum fair value for any stock, and it's based on only two data points: current earnings per share and current book value per share.
The Graham Number = Square Root of (22.5) x (TTM Earnings per Share) x (MRQ Book Value per Share)
This equation assumes that a stock is overvalued if P/E is over 15 or P/BV is over 1.5. Therefore, stocks trading significantly below their Graham Number are "undervalued" according to the equation.
Combining these ideas, the following list of companies have reported rising gross margins and are undervalued according to the Graham equation.
Rising gross margin implies the company has become more profitable, but these names are still trading at a discount to fair value. Do you think they will rise in value? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)
1. Calamos Asset Management: Provides investment advisory services to individuals including high net worth individuals, and institutions. Gross profit margins increased from 77.12% to 77.46% during the first time interval (12 months ending 2008-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2007-12-31). For the second time interval, gross margins increased from 77.46% to 77.99% (12 months ending 2009-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2008-12-31). And for the final time interval, gross margins increased from 77.99% to 78.69% (12 months ending 2010-12-31 vs. 12 months ending 2009-12-31). Diluted TTM earnings per share at 1.06, and a MRQ book value per share value at 9.32, implies a Graham Number fair value = sqrt(22.5*1.06*9.32) = $14.91. Based on the stock's price at $11.77, this implies a potential upside of 26.67% from current levels.
2. Solar Capital
3. Level 3 Communications
4. Nanometrics: Provides high-performance process control metrology systems used primarily in the fabrication of semiconductors, high-brightness LEDs, data storage devices, and solar photovoltaics. Gross profit margins increased from 42.13% to 43.81% during the first time interval (52 weeks ending 2008-12-27 vs. 52 weeks ending 2007-12-29). For the second time interval, gross margins increased from 43.81% to 47.09% (53 weeks ending 2010-01-02 vs. 52 weeks ending 2008-12-27). And for the final time interval, gross margins increased from 47.09% to 54.37% (52 weeks ending 2011-01-01 vs. 53 weeks ending 2010-01-02). Diluted TTM earnings per share at 2.36, and a MRQ book value per share value at 8.99, implies a Graham Number fair value = sqrt(22.5*2.36*8.99) = $21.85. Based on the stock's price at $18.01, this implies a potential upside of 21.31% from current levels.
5. Medallion Financial
6. Molson Coors Brewing
Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.
List compiled by Eben Esterhuizen, CFA. Kapitall's Eben Esterhuizen and Rebecca Lipman do not own any of the shares mentioned above. EPS and BVPS data sourced from Yahoo! Finance, accounting data sourced from Google Finance.