Pitney Bowes' Dividend Will Eventually Be Cut

| About: Pitney Bowes (PBI)

As part of our process, we perform a rigorous discounted cash-flow methodology that dives into the true intrinsic worth of companies. In Pitney Bowes' (NYSE:PBI) case, we think the firm is fairly valued at $19 per share, meaningfully higher than where it is currently trading. But we wouldn't go near the firm on the basis of its VBI score and our view of its dividend (click here for more information on our Valuentum Buying Index--the VBI).

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. Pitney Bowes posts a VBI score of 4 on our scale, reflecting our 'fairly valued' DCF assessment of the firm, its attractive relative valuation versus peers, and bearish techinicals. We prefer companies that register a 9 or 10 on our scale. We use Cintas Corp (NASDAQ:CTAS), R.R. Donnelley (NASDAQ:RRD), Iron Mountain (NYSE:IRM), and Xerox (NYSE:XRX) for our peer group analysis.

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Our Report on Pitney Bowes

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Investment Considerations

Investment Highlights

Pitney Bowes earns a ValueCreation™ rating of EXCELLENT, the highest possible mark on our scale. The firm has been generating economic value for shareholders for the past few years, a track record we view very positively. Return on invested capital (excluding goodwill) has averaged 55.7% during the past three years.

The firm is trading at attractive valuation mulitples relative to peers, but our DCF process indicates a less compelling opportunity. We'd wait for a clearer signal on valuation before jumping into the firm's shares.

Pitney Bowes' cash flow generation is robust, but its financial leverage could potentially be concerning down the road. If cash flows begin to weaken, we'd become more cautious on the firm's overall financial

The firm's share price performance has trailed that of the market during the past quarter. However, it is trading within our fair value estimate range, so we don't view such activity as alarming.

The firm sports an outsize dividend yield of 8.7%. We expect the firm to pay out about 70% of next year's earnings to shareholders as dividends. However, we're not considering the firm for addition to the portfolio in our Dividend Growth Newsletter, as its Dividend Cushion is in negative territory (below 1 is concerning, while negative is very shaky ground). We think a cut in coming years is very likely, as earnings face pressure. Our Dividend Cushion recently caught JC Penney's cut and a number of others on the following table:

Business Quality

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 (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. Pitney Bowes' 3-year historical return on invested capital (without goodwill) is 55.7%, which is above the estimate of its cost of capital of 8.8%. As such, we assign the firm a ValueCreation™ rating of EXCELLENT. 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.

Cash Flow Analysis

Firms that generate a free cash flow margin (free cash flow divided by total revenue) above 5% are usually considered cash cows. Pitney Bowes' free cash flow margin has averaged about 12.4% during the past 3 years. As such, we think the firm's cash flow generation is relatively STRONG. 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. For more information on the differences between these two measures, please visit our website at Valuentum.com. At Pitney Bowes, cash flow from operations decreased about 21% from levels registered two years ago, while capital expenditures fell about 6% over the same time period.

Valuation Analysis

Our discounted cash flow model indicates that Pitney Bowes' shares are worth between $14.00 - $24.00 each. The margin of safety around our fair value estimate is driven by the firm's MEDIUM ValueRisk™ rating, which is derived from the historical volatility of key valuation drivers. The estimated fair value of $19 per share represents a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of about 11 times last year's earnings and an implied EV/EBITDA multiple of about 6.8 times last year's EBITDA. Our model reflects a compound annual revenue growth rate of -0.2% during the next five years, a pace that is higher than the firm's 3-year historical compound annual growth rate of -5.5%. Our model reflects a 5-year projected average operating margin of 11.7%, which is below Pitney Bowes' 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 Pitney Bowes, we use a 8.8% weighted average cost of capital to discount future free cash flows.

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 $19 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 Pitney Bowes. We think the firm is attractive below $14 per share (the green line), but quite expensive above $24 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.

Future Path of Fair Value

We estimate Pitney Bowes' fair value at this point in time to be about $19 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 Pitney Bowes' 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 $20 per share in Year 3 represents our existing fair value per share of $19 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.

Pro Forma Financial Statements

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