Analysts estimate growth in earnings per share for many firms. It is useful to know what their estimates are. Look at fundamentals • Ultimately, all growth in earnings can be traced to two fundamentals - how much the firm is investing in new projects, and what returns these projects are making for the firm.
Aswath Damodaran 129 I. Historical Growth in EPS Historical growth rates can be estimated in a number of different ways • Arithmetic versus Geometric Averages • Simple versus Regression Models Historical growth rates can be sensitive to • the period used in the estimation In using historical growth rates, the following factors have to be considered • how to deal with negative earnings • the effect of changing size Aswath Damodaran 130 Motorola: Arithmetic versus Geometric Growth Rates
Aswath Damodaran 131 A Test You are trying to estimate the growth rate in earnings per share at Time Warner from 1996 to 1997. In 1996, the earnings per share was a deficit of $0.05. In 1997, the expected earnings per share is $ 0.25. What is the growth rate? -600% +600% +120% Cannot be estimated Aswath Damodaran 132 Dealing with Negative Earnings When the earnings in the starting period are negative, the growth rate cannot be estimated. (0.30/-0.05 = -600%) There are three solutions: • Use the higher of the two numbers as the denominator (0.30/0.25 = 120%) • Use the absolute value of earnings in the starting period as the denominator (0.30/0.05=600%) • Use a linear regression model and divide the coefficient by the average earnings. When earnings are negative, the growth rate is meaningless. Thus, while the growth rate can be estimated, it does not tell you much about the future.
Aswath Damodaran 133 The Effect of Size on Growth: Callaway Golf Year Net Profit Growth Rate 1990 1.80 1991 6.40 255.56% 1992 19.30 201.56% 1993 41.20 113.47% 1994 78.00 89.32% 1995 97.70 25.26% 1996 122.30 25.18% Geometric Average Growth Rate = 102% Aswath Damodaran 134 Extrapolation and its Dangers Year Net Profit 1996 $ 122.30 1997 $ 247.05 1998 $ 499.03 1999 $ 1,008.05 2000 $ 2,036.25 2001 $ 4,113.23 If net profit continues to grow at the same rate as it has in the past 6 years, the expected net income in 5 years will be $ 4.113 billion.
Aswath Damodaran 135 II. Analyst Forecasts of Growth While the job of an analyst is to find under and over valued stocks in the sectors that they follow, a significant proportion of an analyst ’ s time (outside of selling) is spent forecasting earnings per share. • Most of this time, in turn, is spent forecasting earnings per share in the next earnings report • While many analysts forecast expected growth in earnings per share over the next 5 years, the analysis and information (generally) that goes into this estimate is far more limited. Analyst forecasts of earnings per share and expected growth are widely disseminated by services such as Zacks and IBES, at least for U.S companies. Aswath Damodaran 136 How good are analysts at forecasting growth?
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