Value investing is synonymous with Benjamin Graham. In 1934, Mr Graham along with co-author David Dodd, published a seminal
book called Security Analysis (Graham & Dodd, 2008). This book prescribed a formula to measure the intrinsic value of a company that was based on its Earnings Per Share (EPS), and its long term growth potential. And while this formula was further enhanced in his subsequent book “The Intelligent Investor” (Graham, 2013) published in 1974, its core has remained unchanged for close to a century now.
The basic premise of investing in stocks that have an intrinsic value higher than their prevailing market price continues to be the essence of value investing. However, since the formula requires an estimated future long term growth rate to function, it relies on the ability to forecast this growth rate accurately for successful implementation. For this reason, it cannot be used in factor investing directly.
To overcome this, researchers and practitioners focused on the part of the formula that can be populated mathematically like the EPS of a company as a starting point and, over the years, developed various mathematical derivations of the “discount to intrinsic value” concept that rely on ratios like Price-to-Earnings (P/E), Price-to-Book (P/B), Price-to-Sales (P/S), Price-to-cash flow (P/CF), Enterprise Value to Earnings Before Interest, taxes, Depreciation and Amortised Expenses (EV/EBITDA), and Dividend Yield among others with varying degrees of success. These have emerged as the predominant way of measuring value across the world.