Howard Hughes Corp (NYSE: HHC), a real estate firm with a market capitalization of $5.6 billion, currently trades at a Sales Multiple of 6.9x which is below the sector’s median multiple of 10.1x. Although this makes HHC look attractive, investors may change their mind after reviewing the assumptions behind the EV / Sales ratio. In the post below, I calculate Howard Hughes Corp’s fair value using a Sales Multiples valuation.
How To Interpret Howard Hughes Corp’s Sales Multiple
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 companies deemed to be similar. We can then determine if a company is undervalued or overvalued relative to its peers by comparing metrics like growth, profit margin, and valuation multiples.
EV / Sales, also known as Enterprise Value-to-Sales Multiple or a Sales Multiple, measures the dollars in Enterprise Value for each dollar of revenue. 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 a Sales Multiples valuation model is the following:
Enterprise Value = Revenue x Selected Multiple
The EV / Sales 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 Howard Hughes Corp’s EV / Sales ratio to its peer group that includes M.D.C. Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: MDC), Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL), Alexander & Baldwin Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ALEX) and Colliers International Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CIGI).
Since Howard Hughes Corp’s EV / Sales ratio of 6.9x is higher than the median of its peers (1.5x), it means that investors are paying more than they should for each dollar of HHC’s revenue. As such, our analysis shows that HHC represents an overvalued stock. Furthermore, finbox.io’s EV / Sales Ratio Model calculates a fair value of $33.29 per share which implies -74.4% downside.
I selected a fair multiple of 3.1x in my analysis by averaging Howard Hughes Corp’s current EV / Sales ratio with its peer group.
Sales Multiple Flaws
While this approach typically provides a reasonable valuation range, it is important to understand that our conclusion rests on some important assumptions. The first being that the selected peer group actually contains companies that truly are similar to Howard Hughes Corp. The second important assumption is that the selected peer group stocks are being fairly valued by the market.
If the assumptions above do not hold to be true, then the difference in EV / Sales ratios could be due to a variety of factors. For example, if you accidentally compare Howard Hughes Corp with lower growth companies, then its sales multiple would naturally be higher than its peers since investors reward high growth stocks with a higher price. Furthermore, sales multiples are highly correlated with EBITDA margins so differences in profit margin often explain differences in valuation.
source: sales multiples model
Now if the second assumption does not hold true, Howard Hughes Corp’s higher multiple may be because firms in our peer group are being undervalued by the market.
What To Do Next
As a current investor, you may have already conducted fundamental analysis on the company and its stock so its current overvaluation could signal a potential selling opportunity to reduce your exposure to HHC. But keep in mind the EV / Sales ratio’s potential flaws when applying this valuation approach. It is important to note that there are a variety of other fundamental factors that I have not taken into consideration in this article. I highly recommend that you continue your research on Howard Hughes Corp by taking a look at the following:
Valuation Metrics: what is Howard Hughes Corp’s short ratio and how does it compare to its publicly traded peers? It represents the percentage of total shares outstanding that is being shorted. View the short ratio here.
Risk Metrics: how much interest coverage does Howard Hughes Corp have? This is a ratio used to assess a firm’s ability to pay interest expenses based on operating profits (EBIT). View the company’s interest coverage here.
Efficiency Metrics: fixed asset turnover is calculated by dividing revenue by average fixed assets. View Howard Hughes Corp’s fixed asset turnover here.
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.