Should You Be Tempted To Sell Casey’s General Stores Inc (NASDAQ: CASY) Because Of Its EBITDA Multiple?

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Casey’s General Stores Inc (NASDAQ: CASY) shares currently trade at 9.8x its trailing EBITDA which is lower than the Consumer Staples sector median of 12.4x. While this makes CASY look like a stock to add to your portfolio, equity investors might change their mind after taking a closer look at the assumptions behind the EV / EBITDA ratio. In this article, I define how to calculate an EBITDA Multiple and what to keep an eye out for when applying it in a comparable companies analysis.


CASY Comparable Companies Analysis

A comparable companies analysis, also known as a multiples valuation, determines the value of a subject company by benchmarking its financial performance against similar public companies or peers. We can conclude if a company looks undervalued or overvalued relative to its peers by comparing metrics like growth, profit margin, and valuation ratios.

Enterprise Value-to-EBITDA Multiple, also known as the EV / EBITDA ratio or an EBITDA Multiple, 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. The general formula behind an EBITDA Multiples valuation model is the following:

Enterprise Value = EBITDA x Selected Multiple

The EV / EBITDA ratio by itself is not very helpful at all. It is only useful when comparing it to other companies that are considered similar to the subject company. The basic idea is that companies with similar characteristics should trade at similar multiples, all other things being equal. Therefore, we can come to a conclusion about the stock if the ratios are different. In the chart below, I compare CASY’s EV / EBITDA ratio to its peer group that includes Murphy USA Inc. (NYSE: MUSA), SuperValu Inc. (NYSE: SVU), Kroger Company (The) (NYSE: KR) and Smart & Final Stores, Inc. (NYSE: SFS).

CASY EBITDA Multiple vs Peers Chartsource: finbox.io Benchmarks: EBITDA Multiples

Since CASY’s EBITDA multiple of 9.8x is higher than the median of its peers (6.9x), it means that investors are paying more than they should for each dollar of CASY’s EBITDA. As such, our analysis shows that CASY represents an overvalued stock. In fact, finbox.io’s EBITDA Multiples Model calculates a fair value of around $69.50 per share which implies roughly 31.5% downside.

CASY EV / EBITDA Valuation Calculation

I selected a fair multiple of 7.5x in my analysis by averaging CASY’s current EV / EBITDA ratio with its peer group and sector.


Are Comps Really Comparable?

Before concluding that CASY should be banished from 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 CASY, 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 CASY with lower growth companies, then its EBITDA multiple would naturally be higher than its peers since investors reward high growth stocks with a higher price.

CASY EBITDA Growth and Margins vs Peers Tablesource: EBITDA multiples model

Now if the second assumption does not hold true, CASY’s higher multiple may be because firms in our peer group are being undervalued by the market.


How This Impacts Shareholders

As a shareholder, you may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the stock so its current overvaluation could signal a potential selling opportunity to reduce your exposure to CASY. 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 CASY by taking a look at the following:

Valuation Metrics: how much upside do shares of CASY have based on Wall Street’s consensus price target? Take a look at our analyst upside data explorer that compares the company’s upside relative to its peers.

Risk Metrics: how is CASY’s financial health? Find out by viewing our financial leverage data metric which plots the dollars in total assets for each dollar of common equity over time.

Efficiency Metrics: is management becoming more or less efficient over time? Find out by analyzing the company’s asset turnover ratio which measures the dollars in revenue a company generates per dollar of assets.

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.

Expertise: financial modeling, mergers & acquisitions. Andy is also a founder at finbox.io, where he’s focused on building tools that make it faster and easier for investors to do investment research. Andy’s background is in investment banking where he led the analysis on over 50 board advisory engagements involving mergers and acquisitions, fairness opinions and solvency opinions. Some of his board advisory highlights: - Sears Holdings Corp.’s $620 mm spin-off via rights offering of Sears Outlet, Hometown Stores and Sears Hardware Stores. - Cerberus Capital Management’s $3.3 bn acquisition of SUPERVALU Inc.’s New Albertsons, Inc. assets. Andy can be reached at andy@finbox.io or at +1 (516) 778-6257.

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