Phil Town
Phil Town

This Homework was submitted by Chad, an Investools user. Read on:


I have noticed the investools valuation analysis numbers are much different than what I find on other sites. What numbers would you say are correct? Am I just looking at them incorrectly? For example Projected P/E for MSM. I looked at Yahoo finance and it shows a P/E 1 yr @ 19.32 but the investools shows a 1 yr P/E of 57.34. If I want an accurate assessment of P/E what should I be looking at?

I have looked into this company for a couple reasons which lead me into my 4M's:

Meaning - Do I know what they do?

1) Yes, they supply industrial tools and equipment.2) I myself currently buy from them for my company.

Moat - They are one of the nation's largest direct marketers of industrial supplies and equipment. So let's look at their #'s for a moat.  (All #'s from Investools)

1. ROIC - 12% good because we require at least 10% 2. Equity growth rate - 10.59% (I believe -- if this is not correct please let me know if it's not.) 3. EPS growth rate - 14.35% 10 yr good because we require at least 10% 4. Sales growth rate - 15.37% 10 yr good because we require at least 10% 5. Cash growth rate - +14.4

So all these lead me to believe they must have a durable competitive advantage. Name maybe, or low price.

Management - The man who started the company has handed it to his son and his son has grown it to what it is now. I have not been able to find to much on Mitchell Jacobson. Let me know if you can.MOS - If I go by the #'s in the investools valuation analysis, which shows 21.25% projected growth rate and 31.52 P/E, I get a sticker price of $81.43, which half of that is what we would pay -- $40.72 -- but the stock is currently going for $37.29.

MG-Zacks - 3.62Price Pattern - 3.00

The industry is on a slow but upward trend and so is the company.

So it appears it is a good buy -- what do you think?


Chad did good work. Here's my response:


I just looked up MSM on MSN Money, Yahoo Finance and InvestoolsThe PE is listed at 24% on all three. The forward PE on Yahoo is at 19%. That is different than the PE, okay?  That's a guess of the PE based on future expectations.

I like it that you do business with this company.  Excellent way to get to know a business you might want to buy.  Clearly you see these guys being in business twenty years from now and doing great.

ROIC is right.

Equity growth is a bit off.  Just use Rule of 72 on the string of equity numbers from 1995-2005.  It's somewhere between 18% and 24% depending on which year you start.  It had a big jump in equity in 1995-1996.  But if you start in 1996 you get 18%.  Let's use that.

EPS and Sales and Cash are right.  But remember to look not only at the ten year number but also the 5 and 1 to see consistency.  In this case you have consistency and earnings are exploding.

Always make a quick check to see if they have a bunch of long term debt.  They don't.  Another good sign.

Your conclusion that they have moat is probably correct from the numbers, but what is the Moat?  If you don't know how they defend themselves, you don't know the business well enough to buy it. 

So, yes, they have one.  MSC thinks they are all about customer service - giving you what you need right now.  They pride themselves on giving the customer everything from one source at the lowest price and see themselves as part of their customer's business. 

In other words, they have a Toll Bridge/Price/Switch Moat in Business to Business direct.  You want it all in one place cheap, there's only one distributor: MSC. How do I know that?  Their website tells me.

NOTE:  Every good business puts its moat right up front where you can see it.  Otherwise what good is it? (And this is why YOU have to know what this business is all about because they could be hyping me up on their website.  The numbers are there to confirm that they aren't, but it's best to KNOW they aren't, right?)

Management seems good.  Son of founder is good on the surface.  But did you read his letters to shareholders in his annual report?  Did you get a sense of what his Big Audacious Goal is?  Is he on our side or his side?  Huge question if we intend to own this thing for the next 100 years. 

Second page of the annual report in bold print:  Our Mission is to be the best in the world [at what they do]Now that, my friends, is a BAG. I LOVE a CEO with a BAG.  And I love a CEO who thinks ahead.  His letter tells us owners that he built in extra capacity and is now set up to handle an additional 50% growth without spending a dime, and now they are going to kick butt on their competitors.  Upbeat letter, no downside in sight.  I'd rather the guy open up about his challenges, but maybe this last year was so killer he is on a total roll.  All in all, I like his tone.

MOS: Remember we go with the lesser of our estimate of growth or the analysts:  I put growth at 18% so I'm going with that instead of the higher analyst number.  My PE is going to be 36 or historical (2 x the growth rate).  In this case historical is 31 so we'll use that.  That gives us a Sticker of $62.  MOS is $31.  Selling for $36.  That's in the range of a BIG MOS. HALF OFF SALE at MSM!

Love it that you are watching the group...  the big buggers are sneaking in there, aren't they!  But now we can see them sneaking.  Now you get the arrows on this one, it's a go, baby!

Wish I knew what you know about this thing.  Looks like a really good deal but I never buy anything I don't know first hand.  You're just going to have to make money on this one without me, bro.

Nice job.  Congrats.

Now go play!