- To which industry/sector does this company belong? What are the major issues facing this industry? Is your company a dominant player in the industry?
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overview of BLS Statistics by Industry. https://www.bls.gov/bls/industry.htm
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization. https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g17/current/default.htm
Check for trade associations specific to the industry as well as current financial news articles (example: https://www.reuters.com/business/ has news for specific industry groups)
- What are the significant events, trends, and risk factors affecting the firm? Be sure to consider the Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) and sustainability issues demonstrated by this company.
Annual Reports, Management Discussion & Analysis of Financial Condition and Risk Disclosures.
A list of the Board composition, with independent directors identified, is available at various sites. For example, Reuters describes the Campbell Soup board on the company page under the “People” tab at: https://www.reuters.com/companies/CPB.N . Note proportion of independent directors versus insiders; is the Chairman of the Board independent or is that role filled by the CEO?
Yahoo publishes the Governance Quality Scores calculated by Institutional Shareholders Services (ISS) under the “Profile” tab for the company (scroll all the way down to the bottom). Scores are provided for the following risks: Audit, Board, Shareholder Rights, and Compensation.
Yahoo also publishes the overall ESG ratings provided by Sustainalytics as well as the separate ratings for E, S and G, under the “Sustainability” tab for the company.
- Examine the company’s financial ratios for the two most recent years, using the ratios introduced in Chapter 3, and addressing the company’s liquidity, operating efficiency, debt, and profitability. Are there significant trends or changes in any of the ratios? To what do you attribute these trends or changes?
The following sites provide a trend analysis of popular ratios: https://stockanalysis.com/stocks/ (Search for company or symbol, then click on Financials/Ratios); https://www.macroaxis.com/
- Look at the comparative ratios for your company. How do your company’s financials measure up against their main competitors or industry group?
The following site compares many popular ratios for the company and its industry: https://www.investing.com/equities/ (use search window for company page, then click on Financials/ratios tabs)
For the comparative ratios, focus on the Return on Equity and break it down as in the Dupont analysis (Chapter 3). Use the ROE and the dividend payout ratio to estimate the company’s sustainable rate of growth. If possible, compare with a peer company or the industry.
- Review your company’s statement of cash flows for the past two years. Compare the cash flow from operating activities to the income from continuing operations. By how much do they differ, and why do they differ?
The SCF should reveal the company’s major resource decisions – are they investing in productive assets, are they paying dividends, are operating cash flows sufficient to cover these needs, or is external financing necessary?
- What is the credit rating on the company’s debt? Does the company pay dividends on its shares and/or return capital to investors through a share repurchase program?
Best source for credit ratings and yields on company’s outstanding bonds is the FINRA/Morningstar site: https://finra-markets.morningstar.com/BondCenter/Default.jsp. This will lead you to the cost of debt for the company.
If the company pays dividends, you can estimate the cost of equity using the dividend discount model (and applying the growth rate you calculated in #4 above). Whether or not the company pays dividends, you can use the CAPM/SML formula to estimate the cost of equity/required return. You will need this for #7 anyway!
Meanwhile, compute a weighted average cost of capital (WACC), and compare to the ROE you computed above. Think of it as the aggregate of capital budgeting decisions. Has the company created value for the shareholder? (If you have access to the Bloomberg terminals in the computer lab, use the WACC function and note the comparison to Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) and the Economic Value Added (EVA).)
- Compare your company’s required return based on the SML with the expected return based on the analysts’ mean target price and expected dividends. Do you expect the company to deliver value for an investor over the next year? Longer-term?
A readily available source for Beta, analysts’ mean target price, and forward dividends is Yahoo!Finance.