Many investors turn to Benjamin Graham's so-called “Graham number” to calculate the fair price of a stock. The Graham number is √(22.5 * 5 year average earnings per share * book value per share), which for Howmet Aerospace gives us a fair price of $12.68. In comparison, the stock’s market price is $42.12 per share. Therefore, Howmet Aerospace’s market price exceeds the upper bound that a prudent investor would pay for its shares by 232.3%.

The Graham number is often used in isolation, but in fact it is only one part of a check list for choosing defensive stocks that he laid out in Chapter 14 of *The Intelligent Investor*. The analysis requires us to look at the following fundamentals of Howmet Aerospace:

*Sales Revenue Should Be No Less Than $500 million*

For Howmet Aerospace, average sales revenue over the last 4 years has been $7,521,500,000, so in the context of the Graham analysis the stock has impressive sales revenue. Originally the threshold was $100 million, but since the book was published in the 1970s it's necessary to adjust the figure for inflation.

*Current Assets Should Be at Least Twice Current Liabilities*

We calculate Howmet Aerospace's current ratio by dividing its total current assets of $3,143,000,000 by its total current liabilities of $1,482,000,000. Current assets refer to company assets that can be transferred into cash within one year, such as accounts receivable, inventory, and liquid financial instruments. Current liabilities, on the other hand, refer to those that will come due within one year. In Howmet Aerospace’s case, current assets outweigh current liabilities by a factor of 2.1.

*The Company’s Long-term Debt Should Not Exceed its Net Current Assets*

This means that its ratio of debt to net current assets should be 1 or less. Since Howmet Aerospace’s debt ratio is -1.2, the company has negative current asset / liability balance. We calculate Howmet Aerospace’s debt to net current assets ratio by dividing its total long term of debt of $4,162,000,000 by its current assets minus total liabilities of $6,654,000,000.

*The Stock Should Have a Positive Level of Retained Earnings Over Several Years*

Howmet Aerospace had negative retained earnings in 2016 and 2017 with an average of $5,656,466,667. Retained earnings are the sum of the current and previous reporting periods' net asset amounts, minus all dividend payments. It's a similar metric to free cash flow, with the difference that retained earnings are accounted for on an accrual basis.

*There Should Be a Record of Uninterrupted Dividend Payments Over the Last 20 Years*

Shareholders of Howmet Aerospace have received regular dividends since 2007. The company has returned a 0.2% dividend yield over the last 12 months.

*A Minimum Increase of at Least One-third in Earnings per Share (EPS) Over the Past 10 Years*

We are going to compare Howmet Aerospace's earnings per share averages from the two 'bookends' of the 13 year period for which we have data. The first bookend comprises the years 2007, 2008, and 2009, whose EPS values of $2.94, $-0.10, and $-1.23 average out to $0.54. Next we look at the years 2017, 2018, and 2019, whose values of $-0.28, $0.44, and $0.70 average out to $0.29. The growth rate between the two averages does not meet Graham's standard since it is -46.3%.

Howmet Aerospace does not have the profile of a defensive stock according to Benjamin Graham's criteria because in addition to trading far above its fair value, it has:

- impressive sales revenue
- an excellent current ratio
- negative current asset to liability balance
- negative retained earnings in 2016 and 2017
- a solid record of dividends
- decreasing earnings per share