With an average analyst rating of buy, Exelon is clearly an analyst favorite. But the analysts could be wrong. Is EXC overvalued at today's price of $42.42? Let's take a closer look at the fundamentals to find out.
The most common valuation metric for stocks is the trailing price to earnings (P/E) ratio. Exelon has a P/E ratio of 20.6 based on its 12 month trailing earnings per share of $2.06. Considering its future earnings estimates of $2.36 per share, the stock's forward P/E ratio is 18.0. In comparison, the average P/E ratio of the Utilities sector is 26.37 and the average P/E ratio of the S&P 500 is 15.97.
We can solve this inconsistency by dividing the company's trailing P/E ratio by its five year earnings growth estimate, which in this case gives us a 3.02 Price to Earnings Growth (PEG) ratio. Since the PEG ratio is greater than 1, the company's lofty valuation is not justified by its growth levels.
We can also compare the ratio of Exelon's market price to its book value, which gives us the price to book, or P/B ratio. A company's book value refers to its present liquidation value -- or what would be left if the company sold off all its assets and paid off all of its debts today. Importantly, the book value does not include intangible assets such as the value of its brand and the goodwill of its customers. EXC has a P/B ratio of 1.7, with any figure close to or below one indicating a potentially undervalued company.
A comparison of the share price versus company earnings and book value should be balanced by an analysis of the company's ability to pay its liabilities. One popular metric is the Quick Ratio, or Acid Test, which is the company's current assets minus its inventory and prepaid expenses divided by its current liabilities. Exelon's quick ratio is 0.451. Generally speaking, a quick ratio above 1 signifies that the company is able to meet its liabilities.
Now we turn to the actual cash that Exelon has on hand after all of its inflows and outflows of capital have been accounted for -- including non business related items such as the cost of maintaining its debt. This final bottom line is called levered free cash flow, and for Exelon it stands at -$. This negative cash flow could mean the company may not be able to sustain its 3.3% for much longer.
With most indicators pointing at a higher than average valuation with uncertain growth prospects, most analysts are either wrong about Exelon, or their research has uncovered one or more qualitative reasons to invest in the stock. For example, the strength of the management team and their plan for executing the business strategy may have convinced some analysts to give less weight to traditional quantitative factors.