Understand Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) as Benjamin Graham Would

Freeport-McMoRan does not have the profile of a defensive investment based on the requirements of Ben Graham. The Industrial Metals & Mining firm may nonetheless be of interest to more risk-oriented investors who have a solid thesis on the company's future growth. At Market Inference, we remain agnostic as to such further developments, and prefer to use a company's past track record as the bellwether for future potential gains.

Freeport-McMoRan Is Probably Overvalued

Graham devised the below equation to give investors a quick way of determining whether a stock is trading at a fair multiple of its earnings and its assets:

√(22.5 * 4 year average earnings per share (1.15) * 4 year average book value per share (11.298) = $17.1

After an impressive 28.0% performance over the 12 months, Freeport-McMoRan is now trading well over its price because its Graham number is 132.8% above today's share price of $39.81. Even though the stock does not trade at an attractive multiple, it might still meet some of the other criteria for quality stocks that Graham listed in Chapter 14 of The Intelligent Investor.

Negative Retained Earnings In 2019, 2020, And 2021, A Solid Record Of Dividends, and Eps Growth In Excess Of Graham'S Requirements

Ben Graham wrote that an investment in a company with a record of positive retained earnings could contribute significantly to the margin of safety. However, Freeport-McMoRan had negative retained earnings in 2019, 2020, and 2021 with an average of $-6785333333.333333 over this period.

Another one of Graham's requirements is for a 30% or more cumulative growth rate of the company's earnings per share over the last ten years.To determine Freeport-McMoRan's EPS growth over time, we will average out its EPS for 2007, 2008, and 2009, which were $7.50, $-14.86, and $1.08 respectively. This gives us an average of $-2.09 for the period of 2007 to 2009. Next, we compare this value with the average EPS reported in 2019, 2020, and 2021, which were $0.00, $0.41, and $2.90, for an average of $1.10. Now we see that Freeport-McMoRan's EPS growth was 152.63% during this period, which satisfies Ben Graham's requirement.

Freeport-McMoRan has offered a regular dividend since at least 2007. The company has returned a 1.5% dividend yield over the last 12 months.

Freeport-McMoRan’s Balance Sheet Meets Graham’s Criteria

It was also essential to Graham that the company’s current assets outweigh its current liabilities, and that its long term debt be inferior to the sum of its net current assets (current assets minus total liabilities). This is the aspect of the analysis that most companies fail, yet Freeport-McMoRan passes comfortably, with an average current ratio of 2.5, and average debt to net current asset ratio of -0.9.


According to Graham's analysis, Freeport-McMoRan is likely a company of average quality, which does not offer a significant enough margin of safety for a risk averse investor.

2019-12-31 2020-12-31 2021-12-31 2022-12-31
Revenue (MM) $14,402 $14,198 $22,845 $22,780
Gross Margins 9.0% 17.9% 38.6% 33.8%
Operating Margins 4.7% 13.8% 36.3% 30.9%
Net Margins -1.66% 4.22% 18.85% 15.22%
Net Income (MM) -$239 $599 $4,306 $3,468
Net Interest Expense (MM) -$620 -$598 -$602 -$560
Earnings Per Share -$0.17 $0.41 $2.9 $1.47
EPS Growth n/a 341.18% 607.32% -49.31%
Diluted Shares (MM) 1,451 1,461 1,482 1,433
Free Cash Flow (MM) -$1,170 $1,056 $5,600 $1,670
Capital Expenditures (MM) -$2,652 -$1,961 -$2,115 -$3,469
Net Current Assets (MM) -$15,561 -$14,173 -$10,173 -$10,609
Current Ratio 2.43 2.72 2.52 2.46
Long Term Debt (MM) $9,821 $9,677 $9,078 $9,583
Net Debt / EBITDA 4.01 1.7 0.14 0.27
The above analysis is intended for educational purposes only and was performed on the basis of publicly available data. It is not to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Any buy, sell, or other recommendations mentioned in the article are direct quotations of consensus recommendations from the analysts covering the stock, and do not represent the opinions of Market Inference or its writers. Past performance, accounting data, and inferences about market position and corporate valuation are not reliable indicators of future price movements. Market Inference does not provide financial advice. Investors should conduct their own review and analysis of any company of interest before making an investment decision.