Objective research to aid investing decisions

Value Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for September 2021 (Final)

Momentum Investing Strategy (Strategy Overview)

Allocations for September 2021 (Final)
1st ETF 2nd ETF 3rd ETF

Professional Equity Valuation Methods

| | Posted in: Fundamental Valuation

How do those whose jobs involve stock valuation perform this task? In their September 2015 paper entitled “Equity Valuation: A Survey of Professional Practice”, Jerald Pinto, Thomas Robinson and John Stowe report results of a 38-question equity valuation practices survey sent to 13,500 CFA Institute members with equity analysis job responsibilities. They guided respondents through the survey via the following introductory question:

“In evaluating individual equity securities, which of the following approaches to valuation do you use? (Select all that apply)

a) A market multiples approach (e.g., based on price-to-earnings, enterprise value-to-EBITDA, or other multiples)
b) A present discounted value approach (e.g., based on forecasts of future dividends, free cash flows, or economic value added/residual income)―also known as the income approach
c) An asset-based approach (e.g., based on book value, adjusted book value, asset market values, or asset replacement costs)
d) A (real) options approach (using options models to value equity)
e) Other (please specify)”

Using responses from 1,980 completed questionnaires, they find that:

  • 66%/12%/22% of respondents are from the Americas/Asia-Pacific/Europe-Middle East-Africa, respectively.
  • Respondents spend an average (median) of 62% (70%) of their work week evaluating individual stocks.
  • Approaches a), b) and c) as defined above dominate valuation practices, led by market multiples and present discounted value.
    • Hedge funds used an asset-based approach more frequently than a present value approach.
    • Brokerage firms and investment banks use a present discounted value approach much more frequently than do hedge funds.
    • Valuation methods used vary by industry/sector.
  • For the market multiples approach:
    • P/E is the most widely used market multiple, followed closely by enterprise value multiples (such as EV/EBITDA) and more distantly by P/B and P/CF.
    • Forward-looking P/E is much more used than trailing P/E, and net income is much more popular than operating income as an earnings metric.
    • EV/EBITDA is overwhelmingly the most popular enterprise value ratio.
  • For the present discounted value approach:
    • There is an overwhelming preference for using free cash flow.
    • Portfolio managers use a dividend discount model more frequently than do analysts.
    • In estimating the required return on capital, the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) is most popular, followed by judgment and the bond yield plus a risk premium.
    • Historical or adjusted historical estimates are most widely used for the equity risk premium.
    • The average (median) number of forecasted years is eight (five) for cash flow and seven (five) for dividends.
  • There is little variation in valuation practices based on personal characteristics (years of experience, highest academic degree, accounting designations, years holding the CFA charter and charter versus non-charter).

In summary, a survey of stock valuation professionals indicates that P/E, EV/EBITDA, present value of discounted cash flow and value of assets are the principal means of evaluating stocks.

Cautions regarding findings include:

  • Findings reflect preferences in practice, not tests of method accuracies.
  • Other groups may have other preferences.

For reference, see “Classic Paper: Company Valuation Methods”.

Daily Email Updates
Filter Research
  • Research Categories (select one or more)