Not Much Value In KB Home At Current Levels

Apr.29.12 | About: KB Home (KBH)

As part of our process, we perform a rigorous discounted cash-flow methodology that dives into the true intrinsic worth of companies. In KB Home's (NYSE:KBH) case, we think the firm is fairly valued at $11 per share, near where it is currently trading.

For some background, we think a comprehensive analysis of a firm's discounted cash-flow valuation, relative valuation versus industry peers, as well as an assessment of technical and momentum indicators is the best way to identify the most attractive stocks at the best time to buy. This process culminates in what we call our Valuentum Buying Index (click here for an in-depth, narrated presentation on our methodology), which ranks stocks on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.

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If a company is undervalued both on a DCF and on a relative valuation basis and is showing improvement in technical and momentum indicators, it scores high on our scale. KB Home posts a VBI score of 3 on our scale, reflecting our 'fairly valued' DCF assessment of the company, its neutral relative valuation versus peers, and the firm's very bearish techinicals. Peers D. R. Horton (NYSE:DHI), Lennar (NYSE:LEN), PulteGroup (NYSE:PHM), and Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) outperform KB Home according to our VBI score.

Our Report on KB Home

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Our report on KB Home and hundreds of other companies can be found here.

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Investment Considerations

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Investment Highlights

KB Home's average return on invested capital has trailed its cost of capital during the past few years, indicating weakness in business fundamentals and an inability to earn economic profits through the course of the economic cycle. We think there are better quality firms out there.

The company looks fairly valued at this time. We expect the firm to trade within our fair value estimate range for the time being. However, if the firm's share price fell below $7, we'd take a closer look at adding it to the market-beating portfolio of our Best Ideas Newsletter. In the spirit of transparency, we disclose our performance below:

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KB Home's cash flow generation and financial leverage aren't much to speak of. The firm's free cash flow margin has averaged about -5.3% during the past three years, much lower than the mid-single-digit range we'd expect for cash cows. Total debt-to-EBITDA was not meaningful last year, while debt-to-book capitalization stood at 78.2%.

Although we think there may be a better time to dabble in the firm's shares based on our DCF process, the firm's stock has outperformed the market benchmark during the past quarter, indicating increased investor interest in the company.

The firm's technicals look very weak. If current prices hold, the firm's moving averages could create a death cross, a very bearish technical pattern.

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Economic Profit Analysis

The best measure of a firm's ability to create value for shareholders is expressed by comparing its return on invested capital (NASDAQ:ROIC) with its weighted average cost of capital (OTC:WACC). The gap or difference between ROIC and WACC is called the firm's economic profit spread. KB Home's 3-year historical return on invested capital (without goodwill) is 4.2%, which is below the estimate of its cost of capital of 9.2%. As such, we assign the firm a ValueCreation™ rating of POOR. In the chart below, we show the probable path of ROIC in the years ahead based on the estimated volatility of key drivers behind the measure. The solid grey line reflects the most likely outcome, in our opinion, and represents the scenario that results in our fair value estimate.

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Cash Flow Analysis

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Firms that generate a free cash flow margin (free cash flow divided by total revenue) above 5% are usually considered cash cows. KB Home's free cash flow margin has averaged about -5.3% during the past 3 years. As such, we think the firm's cash flow generation is relatively WEAK. The free cash flow measure shown above is derived by taking cash flow from operations less capital expenditures and differs from enterprise free cash flow (FCFF), which we use in deriving our fair value estimate for the company. We make available our fully-populated free cash flow models for financial advisors here. At KB Home, cash flow from operations dropped into negative territory from levels two years ago, while capital expenditures fell about 83% during this time period.

Valuation Analysis

Our discounted cash flow model indicates that KB Home's shares are worth between $7 and $15 each. The margin of safety around our fair value estimate is driven by the firm's HIGH ValueRisk™ rating, which is derived from the historical volatility of key valuation drivers. The estimated fair value of $11 per share represents a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of about -4.7 times last year's earnings and an implied EV/EBITDA multiple of about -32.3 times last year's EBITDA. Our model reflects a compound annual revenue growth rate of 13.2% during the next five years, a pace that is higher than the firm's 3-year historical compound annual growth rate of -24.3%. Our model reflects a 5-year projected average operating margin of 4.2%, which is above KB Home's trailing 3-year average. Beyond year 5, we assume free cash flow will grow at an annual rate of 1.2% for the next 15 years and 3% in perpetuity. For KB Home, we use a 9.2% weighted average cost of capital to discount future free cash flows.

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Margin of Safety Analysis

Our discounted cash flow process values each firm on the basis of the present value of all future free cash flows. Although we estimate the firm's fair value at about $11 per share, every company has a range of probable fair values that's created by the uncertainty of key valuation drivers (like future revenue or earnings, for example). After all, if the future was known with certainty, we wouldn't see much volatility in the markets as stocks would trade precisely at their known fair values. Our ValueRisk™ rating sets the margin of safety or the fair value range we assign to each stock. In the graph below, we show this probable range of fair values for KB Home. We think the firm is attractive below $7 per share (the green line), but quite expensive above $15 per share (the red line). The prices that fall along the yellow line, which includes our fair value estimate, represent a reasonable valuation for the firm, in our opinion.

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Future Path of Fair Value

We estimate KB Home's fair value at this point in time to be about $11 per share. As time passes, however, companies generate cash flow and pay out cash to shareholders in the form of dividends. The chart below compares the firm's current share price with the path of KB Home's expected equity value per share over the next three years, assuming our long-term projections prove accurate. The range between the resulting downside fair value and upside fair value in Year 3 represents our best estimate of the value of the firm's shares three years hence. This range of potential outcomes is also subject to change over time, should our views on the firm's future cash flow potential change. The expected fair value of $15 per share in Year 3 represents our existing fair value per share of $11 increased at an annual rate of the firm's cost of equity less its dividend yield. The upside and downside ranges are derived in the same way, but from the upper and lower bounds of our fair value estimate range.

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Pro Forma Financial Statements

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Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.