W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW): How Significant Is the 0.375893 Return on Capital For Stock Holders?

Taking a look into the returns for W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW), we see the stock has a current MF Rank of 1560. Developed by hedge fund manager Joel Greenblatt, the intention of the formula is to spot high quality companies that are trading at an attractive price. The formula uses ROIC and earnings yield ratios to find quality, undervalued stocks. In general, companies with the lowest combined rank may be the higher quality picks.

W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW) has a current ERP5 Rank of 2418. The ERP5 Rank may assist investors with spotting companies that are undervalued. This ranking uses four ratios. These ratios are Earnings Yield, ROIC, Price to Book, and 5 year average ROIC. When looking at the ERP5 ranking, it is generally considered the lower the value, the better.

Once the individual investor has figured out a plan to analyze stocks, they can begin to start building a portfolio. Because not everyone has the same goals, time horizons, and risk appetites, it is hard to provide one answer to the question of how to construct the perfect winning stock portfolio. Although every investor’s goal is typically to beat the market and secure consistent profits, this is no easy accomplishment. Professionals have spent many years studying the ins and outs of the stock market. There are certain strategies that may work better during different market cycles, but it is hard to say with any certainty that they will continue to work in the future. Markets and economic landscapes are constantly changing, and being able to keep up with the changes might involve tweaking strategies that have previously been successful but no longer are.

Value Composite Three (VC3) is another adaptation of O’Shaughnessy’s value composite but here he combines the factors used in VC1 with buyback yield. This factor is interesting for investors who’re looking for stocks with the best value characteristics, but are indifferent to whether these companies pay a dividend.

VC3 is the combination of the following factors:

Price-to-Book
Price-to-Earnings
Price-to-Sales
EBITDA/EV
Price-to-Cash flow
Buyback Yield

As with the VC1 and VC2, companies are put into groups from 1 to 100 for each ratio and the individual scores are summed up. This total score is then put into groups again from 1 to 100. 1 is cheap, 100 is expensive. W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW) has a VC3 of 28.

The scorecard also displays variants of the VC3 where the score is calculated for the selected company compared to peer companies in the same industry, industry group or sector.

Watching some historical volatility numbers on shares of W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW), we can see that the 12 month volatility is presently 31.0957. The 6 month volatility is 32.0275, and the 3 month is spotted at 31.1848. Following volatility data can help measure how much the stock price has fluctuated over the specified time period. Although past volatility action may help project future stock volatility, it may also be vastly different when taking into account other factors that may be driving price action during the measured time period.

NCAV-to-Market

Benjamin Graham, professor and founder of value investing principles, was one of the first to consistently screen the market looking for bargain companies based on value factors. He didn’t have databases such as ValueSignals at his disposal, but used people like his apprentice Warren Buffet to fill out stock sheets with the most important data.

Graham was always on the watch for firms that were so discounted, that if the company went into liquidation, the proceeds of the assets would still return a profit.

The ratio he used to identify these companies was Net Current Asset Value or NCAV. This ratio is much more stringent compared to book value (total assets – total liabilities) and is calculated as follows:

NCAV = Current Assets – Total Liabilities
Current Assets = Cash & ST Investments + Inventories + Accounts Receivable
Graham was only happy if he could buy the company at 2/3 of the NCAV. That’s the sort of margin of safety he was looking for.

This strategy was very successful during the years after Graham published it in his book ‘Security analysis’ in 1934 and also in more recent studies it has proven to provide superior results. A study done by the State University of New York to prove the effectiveness of this strategy showed that from the period of 1970 to 1983 an investor could have earned an average return of 29.4%, by purchasing stocks that fulfilled Graham’s requirement and holding them for one year. Nowadays it’s very difficult to find companies that meet Graham’s criteria.

We calculate NCAV to Market as follows:

NCAV-to-Market Ratio = NCAV divided by Market Cap

W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW) has an NCAV to Market value of -0.013952.

Price to Sales

In the original edition of ‘What works on Wall Street’, O’Shaughnessy wrote that the single-best value factor was a company’s price-to-sales ratio (P/S). In his latest edition the P/S continues to perform well, but it was unseated by the value composites and EBITDA/EV due to 2 reasons: (1) A broader scope of analysis by using deciles and (2) two very bad years for P/S, e.g. 2007 and 2008.

A stock’s P/S is similar to its P/E ratio, but it measures the price of the company against its annual sales instead of earnings.

It’s calculated as follows:

Price-to-Sales Ratio = Market Cap/Net Sales or Revenues

W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW) has a price to sales ratio of 1.607865.

Price to Earnings

This is undoubtedly the most popular value factor and for many investors the one true faith. It compares the price you pay per share compared to the earnings during the last 12 months. It’s calculated as follows:

Price-to-Earnings Ratio = Share Price/Diluted EPS excluding extra items

The P/E ratio for W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW) is 24.988517.

Gross Profitability

W.W. Grainger, Inc. (GWW) has Gross Profitability of 0.7273

Robert Novy-Marx, a professor at the university of Rochester, discovered that gross profitability – a quality factor – has as much power predicting stock returns as traditional value metrics. He found that while other quality measures had some predictive power, especially on small caps and in conjunction with value measures, gross profitability generates significant excess returns as a stand alone strategy, especially on large cap stocks.

Gross Profitability is calculated as follows:

Gross Profitability = (Net Sales or Revenues−Cost of Goods Sold)/Total Assets

Novy-Marx’s key insight was that you don’t need to go further down the income statement as these numbers may get manipulated with accounting tricks. To identify really profitable firms, one should look at the top line, not the bottom line.

In one of his papers, Novy-Marx compares gross profitability to the other most famous strategies such as Greenblatt magic formula, Piortoski F-Score, etc.

One of the most basic ideas that goes along with the stock market is buy low and sell high. Although this advice is overly obvious, many new investors will do the exact opposite when trading stocks. Inexperienced investors have the tendency to buy stocks that have been performing the best recently. This may be caused by certain factors such as not looking into the underlying fundamentals or just hoping that the stock will continue to rise. Rookie investors may also make the error of holding onto shares that continue to drop in value. Instead of cutting the loser loose, they hold off with the hope that eventually the stock will at least get back to the breakeven point. 

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