Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) trades at an EBITDA multiple of 8.6x, which is lower than the Industrials sector median of 11.4x. While this makes CMI appear like a stock to add to your portfolio, you might change your mind after gaining a better understanding of the assumptions behind the EV/EBITDA ratio. In this article, I will break down what an EBITDA multiple is, how to interpret it and what to watch out for.
How To Utilize EBITDA Multiples
A Multiples Valuation, also known as a Comparable Companies Analysis, determines the value of a subject company by benchmarking the subject’s financial performance against similar public companies (Peer Group). We can infer if a company is undervalued or overvalued relative to its peers by comparing metrics like growth, profit margin, and valuation multiples.
An EBITDA Multiple, also known as Enterprise Value-to-EBITDA Multiple (EV/EBITDA), measures the dollars in Enterprise Value for each dollar of EBITDA. To determine if a company is expensive, it’s far more useful to compare EV/EBITDA multiples than the absolute stock price. Furthermore, its key benefit over the P/E multiple is that it’s capital structure-neutral, and, therefore, better at comparing companies with different levels of debt. The general formula behind an EBITDA Multiples valuation model is the following:
Enterprise Value = EBITDA x Selected Multiple
An EBITDA multiple is not meant to be viewed in isolation and is only useful when comparing it to other similar companies. Since it is expected that similar companies have similar EV/EBITDA ratios, we can come to some conclusions about the stock if the ratios are different. I compare CMI’s EBITDA multiple to those of Caterpillar, Inc. (NYSE: CAT), Navistar International Corporation (NYSE: NAV), CNH Industrial N.V. (NYSE: CNHI) and Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK) in the chart below.
Since CMI’s EV/EBITDA of 8.6x is lower than the median of its peers (10.1x), it means that investors are paying less than they should for each dollar of CMI’s EBITDA. As such, our analysis shows that CMI represents an undervalued stock. In fact, finbox.io’s EBITDA Multiples Model calculates a fair value of $185.27 per share which implies 17.3% upside.
Note that the selected multiple of 10.1x in the analysis above was determined by averaging CMI’s current EBITDA multiple with its peer group.
EBITDA Multiple’s Limitations
Before jumping to the conclusion that CMI should be added to your portfolio, it is important to understand that our conclusion rests on two important assumptions.
(1) the selected peer group actually contains companies that truly are similar to CMI, and
(2) the selected peer group stocks are being fairly valued by the market.
If the first assumption is not accurate, the difference in EBITDA multiples could be due to a variety of factors. For example, if you accidentally compare CMI with higher growth companies, then its EBITDA multiple would naturally be lower than its peers since investors reward high growth stocks with a higher price.
source: EBITDA multiples model
Now if the second assumption does not hold true, CMI’s lower multiple may be because firms in our peer group are being overvalued by the market.
What This Means For Investors
As a shareholder, you may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the stock so its current undervaluation could signal a potential buying opportunity to increase your position in CMI. However, keep in mind the limitations of an EBITDA multiples valuation when making an investment decision. There are a variety of other fundamental factors that I have not taken into consideration in this article. If you have not done so already, I highly recommend that you complete your research on CMI by taking a look at the following:
Valuation Metrics: what is CMI’s free cash flow yield and how does it compare to its publicly traded peers? This metric measures the amount of free cash flow for each dollar of equity (market capitalization). Analyze the free cash flow yield here.
Risk Metrics: what is CMI’s cash ratio which is used to assess a company’s short-term liquidity. View the company’s cash ratio here.
Efficiency Metrics: return on equity is used to measure the return that a firm generates on the book value of common equity. View CMI’s return on equity here.
Author: Matt Hogan
Expertise: Valuation, financial statement analysis
Matt Hogan is also a co-founder of finbox.io. His expertise is in investment decision making. Prior to finbox.io, Matt worked for an investment banking group providing fairness opinions in connection to stock acquisitions. He spent much of his time building valuation models to help clients determine an asset’s fair value. He believes that these same valuation models should be used by all investors before buying or selling a stock.
Matt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of this writing, I did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities and this is not a buy or sell recommendation on any security mentioned.