Thursday, May 29, 2008

Paying too much for growth

Benjamin Graham while considering P/E, EPS etc. took an average of 3 years. To get an idea of growth of the company over the last 10 years, he will take average earnings of 3 years before 10 years and consider the earnings of last 3 years and then decide the growth rate. We will understand this with examples:
Take L&T, the biggest Engineering & Construction company in India and its net profit:

YearNet Profit

Thus average profit for 1996-1998 was 443.66 and average profit for 2006-2008 is 1960.9. Thus growth over ten years is 16% per annum while inflation rose at a rate of 6.36% during the time 1995-2005 (@ Inflation Index). The same company is commanding a market cap of 83K crore right now at bourses even after correcting 35% from its top of 130K crore. This is a P/E of 35.7 at the current price and 56 at the peak.

If you see, consolidated earnings growth was meagre 4% in the last year (standalone rose by 55% from 1403 to 2173 crore). Even if we assume it grows by 30% in year 2008-09 and 25% in 2009-2010 the P/E will still be 27 and 21 at the current price in 2010. And P/E will surely come down as the growth slows down, as already seen in IT companies.
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