Company Analysis

With a shortlist of companies, an investor might analyze the resources and capabilities within each company to identify those companies that are capable of creating and maintaining a competitive advantage. The analysis could focus on selecting companies with a sensible business plan, solid management, and sound financials.

Business Plan

The business plan, model or concept forms the bedrock upon which all else is built. If the plan, model or concepts stink, there is little hope for the business. For a new business, the questions may be these: Does its business make sense? Is it feasible? Is there a market? Can a profit be made? For an established business, the questions may be: Is the company’s direction clearly defined? Is the company a leader in the market? Can the company maintain leadership?

Management

In order to execute a business plan, a company requires top-quality management. Investors might look at management to assess their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Even the best-laid plans in the most dynamic industries can go to waste with bad management (AMD in semiconductors). Alternatively, even in a mature industry, strong management can make for increased success (Alcoa in aluminum). Some of the questions to ask might include: How talented is the management team? Do they have a track record? How long have they worked together? Can management deliver on its promises? If management is a problem, it is sometimes best to move on.

Financial Analysis

The final step to this analysis process would be to take apart the financial statements and come up with a means of valuation. Below is a list of potential inputs into a financial analysis.

Accounts Payable
Accounts Receivable
Acid Ratio
Amortization
Assets – Current
Assets – Fixed
Book Value
Brand
Business Cycle
Business Idea
Business Model
Business Plan
Capital Expenses
Cash Flow
Cash on hand
Current Ratio
Customer Relationships
Days Payable
Days Receivable
Debt
Debt Structure
Debt:Equity Ratio
Depreciation
Derivatives-Hedging
Discounted Cash Flow
Dividend
Dividend Cover
Earnings
EBITDA
Economic Growth
Equity
Equity Risk Premium
Expenses
Good Will
Gross Profit Margin
Growth
Industry
Interest Cover
International
Investment
Liabilities – Current
Liabilities – Long-term
Management
Market Growth
Market Share
Net Profit Margin
Pageview Growth
Pageviews
Patents
Price/Book Value
Price/Earnings
PEG
Price/Sales
Product
Product Placement
Regulations
R & D
Revenues
Sector
Stock Options
Strategy
Subscriber Growth
Subscribers
Supplier Relationships
Taxes
Trademarks
Weighted Average Cost of Capital

The list can seem quite long and intimidating. However, after a while, an investor will learn what works best and develop a set of preferred analysis techniques. There are many different valuation metrics and much depends on the industry and stage of the economic cycle. A complete financial model can be built to forecast future revenues, expenses and profits or an investor can rely on the forecast of other analysts and apply various multiples to arrive at a valuation. Some of the more popular ratios are found by dividing the stock price by a key value driver.

Ratio Company Type
Price/Book Value Oil
Price/Earnings Retail
Price/Earnings/Growth Networking
Price/Sales B2B
Price/Subscribers ISP or Cable Company
Price/Lines Telecom
Price/Page Views Website
Price/Promises Biotech

This methodology assumes that a company will sell at a specific multiple of its earnings, revenues or growth. An investor may rank companies based on these valuation ratios. Those at the high end may be considered overvalued, while those at the low end may constitute relatively good value.

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