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Follows Benjamin Graham method, deep value, value, long only
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In the wake of the great financial crisis it can sometimes be difficult for Intelligent Investors to find a solid financial company in which to invest because they require specific achievements over the historical period. Many investors may simply decide to throw out the worst years with the rationale that they are outliers that shouldn't be considered when evaluating the company's prospects, but doing so would involve speculation. We don't know whether the financial crisis will happen again, but we do know that if it does, we can expect to see similar results as we did before. By continuing to require the same standards for the historical period, Intelligent Investors are able to whittle down banks to only those with the best financial position, and then they are able to determine an intrinsic value to get a sense of whether the company is a good investment. In addition, a company must have strong financial statements to prove that it is stable enough for Intelligent Investors. This is best done by utilizing a systematic approach to analysis that will provide investors with a sense of how a specific company compares to another company. By using the ModernGraham method one can review a company's historical accomplishments and determine an intrinsic value that can be compared across industries. What follows is a specific look at how Ace Limited fares in the ModernGraham valuation model.

ACE Chart

ACE data by YCharts

Defensive Investor - must pass all 6 of the following tests: Score = 6/6

  1. Adequate Size of Enterprise - market capitalization of at least $2 billion - PASS
  2. Earnings Stability - positive earnings per share for at least 10 straight years - PASS
  3. Dividend Record - has paid a dividend for at least 10 straight years - PASS
  4. Earnings Growth - earnings per share has increased by at least 1/3 over the last 10 years using 3 year averages at beginning and end of period - PASS
  5. Moderate PEmg ratio - PEmg is less than 20 - PASS
  6. Moderate Price to Assets - PB ratio is less than 2.5 or PB x PEmg is less than 50 - PASS

Enterprising Investor - must pass all 3 of the following tests or be suitable for a defensive investor: Score = 3/3

  1. Earnings Stability - positive earnings per share for at least 5 years - PASS
  2. Dividend Record - currently pays a dividend - PASS
  3. Earnings growth - EPSmg greater than 5 years ago - PASS

Valuation Summary

Key Data:

Recent Price $95.71
MG Value $133.95
MG Opinion Undervalued
Value Based on 3% Growth $114.13
Value Based on 0% Growth $66.91
Market Implied Growth Rate 1.83%
PEmg 12.16
PB Ratio 1.15

Balance Sheet - 9/30/2013

Total Debt $3,807,000,000
Total Assets $94,584,000,000
Intangible Assets $5,465,000,000
Total Liabilities $66,366,000,000
Outstanding Shares 340,070,000

Earnings Per Share

2013 $9.35
2012 $7.90
2011 $4.65
2010 $9.11
2009 $7.55
2008 $3.53
2007 $7.66
2006 $6.90
2005 $3.31
2004 $3.83
2003 $5.01

Earnings Per Share - ModernGraham

2013 $7.87
2012 $6.94
2011 $6.47
2010 $7.24
2009 $6.13
2008 $5.30

Dividend History

ACE Dividend Chart

ACE Dividend data by YCharts

Conclusion:

Ace Limited is an extremely attractive company despite its continued rise in price over the last number of years. The company passes every requirement of both the Defensive Investor and the Enterprising Investor, demonstrating that it is financially sound. Value investors seeking to follow the ModernGraham approach based on Benjamin Graham's methods should feel very comfortable proceeding with further research to determine if the company is right for their individual portfolios. From a valuation perspective, the company looks great, having grown its EPSmg (normalized earnings) from $5.30 in 2008 to $7.87 for 2013. This level of growth outpaces the market's current implied estimate for earnings growth of only 1.83%, and the ModernGraham valuation model returns an intrinsic value that is well above the market price.

Disclaimer: The author did not hold a position in Ace Limited (ACE) or any of the other companies listed in this article at the time of publication and had no intention of changing that position within the next 72 hours.

Source: ModernGraham Quarterly Valuation Of Ace Limited