Mohnish Pabrai – How To Calculate Intrinsic Value

Mohnish Pabrai – How To Calculate Intrinsic Value
By Fabarsi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve just been re-reading one of my favorite investing books of all time, The Dhando Investor, written by Mohnish Pabrai. In Chapter 7, Dhandho 102: Invest in Simple Businesses, Pabrai provides a very simple example of how to calculate intrinsic value using the real life example of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (NASDAQ:BBBY).

It’s a great illustration of how intrinsic value is not an exact figure but a range that you can compare to the company’s current market value to determine whether you want to dig further into the company.

Here’s an excerpt from The Dhando Investor:

Seth Klarman’s 2021 Letter: Baupost’s “Never-Ending” Hunt For Information

Baupost's investment process involves "never-ending" gleaning of facts to help support investment ideas Seth Klarman writes in his end-of-year letter to investors. In the letter, a copy of which ValueWalk has been able to review, the value investor describes the Baupost Group's process to identify ideas and answer the most critical questions about its potential Read More

An Incredibly Powerful Value Investing Framework

Get The Timeless Reading eBook in PDF

Get the entire 10-part series on Timeless Reading in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues.

When we see a huge gap between the price and intrinsic value of a given business—and that gap is in our favor—we can act and buy that business. Let’s take the example of a well-known retail business, Bed Bath and Beyond (BBBY).

I have to admit that I have never analyzed BBBY before. I have been to its stores a few times over the years, and it has been a pleasant experience. As I write this, BBBY has a quoted stock price of $36 per share and a market cap of $10.7 billion. We know BBBY is being offered on sale for $10.7 billion. What is BBBY’s intrinsic value?

Let’s take a look at a few BBBY statistics on Yahoo Finance.

BBBY had $505 million in net income for the year ended February 28, 2005. Capital expenditures for the year were $191 million and depreciation was $99 million. The “back of the envelope” net free cash flow was about $408 million.

It looks like BBBY is growing revenues 15 percent to 20 percent and net income by 25 percent to 30 percent a year. It also looks like it stepped up capital expenditure (capex) spending in 2005. Let’s assume that free cash flow grows by 30 percent a year for the next three years; then grows 15 percent a year for the following three years, and then 10 percent a year thereafter. Further, let’s assume that the business is sold at the end of that year for 10 to 15 times free cash flow plus any excess capital in the business. BBBY has about $850 million in cash in the business presently (see
Table 7.3).


So, the intrinsic value of BBBY is about $19 billion, and it can be bought at $10.7 billion. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal, but look at my assumptions—they appear to be pretty aggressive. I’m assuming no hiccups in its execution, no change in consumer behavior, and the ability to grow revenues and cash flows pretty dramatically over the years. What if we made some more conservative assumptions? We can run the numbers with any assumptions.

The company has not yet released numbers for the year ended February 28, 2006, but we do have nine months of data (through November 2005). We can compare November 2005 data to November 2004 data. Nine month revenues increased from $3.7 billion to $4.1 billion from November 2004 to November 2005. And earnings increased from $324 million to $375 million.

It looks like the top line is growing at only 10 percent annually and the bottom line by about 15 percent to 16 percent. If we assume that the bottom line growth rate declines by 1 percent a year—going from 15 percent to 5 percent and its final sale price is 10 times 2015 free cash flow, the BBBY’s intrinsic value looks like Table 7.4. Now we end up with an intrinsic value of $9.6 billion.


BBBY’s current market cap is $10.7 billion. If we made the investment, we would end up with an annualized return of a little under 10 percent. If we have good low-risk alternatives where we can earn 10 percent, then BBBY does not look like a good investment at all.So what is BBBY’s real intrinsic value?

My best guess is that it lies somewhere between $8 to $18 billion. And in these calculations, I’ve assumed no dilution of stock via option grants, which might reduce intrinsic value further. With a present price tag of around $11 billion and an intrinsic value range of $8 to $18 billion, I’d not be especially enthused about this investment. There isn’t that much upside and a fairly decent chance of delivering under 10 percent a year.

For me, it’s an easy pass.

This article originally appeared on The Acquirer's Multiple - Stock Screener.



Updated on

The Acquirer’s Multiple® is the valuation ratio used to find attractive takeover candidates. It examines several financial statement items that other multiples like the price-to-earnings ratio do not, including debt, preferred stock, and minority interests; and interest, tax, depreciation, amortization. The Acquirer’s Multiple® is calculated as follows: Enterprise Value / Operating Earnings* It is based on the investment strategy described in the book Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations, written by Tobias Carlisle, founder of The Acquirer’s Multiple® differs from The Magic Formula® Earnings Yield because The Acquirer’s Multiple® uses operating earnings in place of EBIT. Operating earnings is constructed from the top of the income statement down, where EBIT is constructed from the bottom up. Calculating operating earnings from the top down standardizes the metric, making a comparison across companies, industries and sectors possible, and, by excluding special items–earnings that a company does not expect to recur in future years–ensures that these earnings are related only to operations. Similarly, The Acquirer’s Multiple® differs from the ordinary enterprise multiple because it uses operating earnings in place of EBITDA, which is also constructed from the bottom up. Tobias Carlisle is also the Chief Investment Officer of Carbon Beach Asset Management LLC. He's best known as the author of the well regarded Deep Value website Greenbackd, the book Deep Value: Why Activists Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations (2014, Wiley Finance), and Quantitative Value: A Practitioner’s Guide to Automating Intelligent Investment and Eliminating Behavioral Errors (2012, Wiley Finance). He has extensive experience in investment management, business valuation, public company corporate governance, and corporate law. Articles written for Seeking Alpha are provided by the team of analysts at, home of The Acquirer's Multiple Deep Value Stock Screener. All metrics use trailing twelve month or most recent quarter data. * The screener uses the CRSP/Compustat merged database “OIADP” line item defined as “Operating Income After Depreciation.”
Previous article Words of wisdom from Seth Klarman and Howard Marks
Next article Google Project Fi Hints At A New Mid-Tier Device This Year

No posts to display