2007 was a momentous year for the largest retailer of "do-it-yourself" merchandise, which includes building materials, home improvement supplies, and lawn and garden products. Robert Nardelli, now at Chrysler, was forced out as Chairman and CEO because of dissatisfaction with the company's operating performance, stagnant stock price, and bountiful executive compensation. His elephantine severance package became a cause célèbre. After Frank Blake took over, the company decided to sell the Home Depot Supply division, which served professional contractors. The purchase by a consortium of private equity firms closed on 31 August 2007 for $8.5 billion, which was $1.8 billion less than the figure originally negotiated. The company used the proceeds and other funds to complete a $10.7 billion Dutch Auction tender offer for its own shares. The offer is part of a larger $22.5 billion "recapitalization" plan, although there has been speculation that the further share repurchases will be delayed considerably.
A fund controlled by Sears Holdings chairman and successful investor Edward Lampert acquired 16.7 million Home Depot shares, valued at $541.3 million, during the third quarter.
We analyzed Home Depot after the October 2007 quarter. The analysis omitted gauge scores because we didn't have sufficient financial data representative of the new corporate structure.
Before we examine the metrics associated with each gauge, let's compare the latest quarterly Income Statement to our previously communicated expectations. Please note that the presentation format below, which we use for all analyses, may differ in material respects from company-used formats. A common difference is the classification of income and expenses as Operating and Non-Operating. The standardization is simply for convenience and to facilitate cross-company comparisons.
| ($ M) || || Jan 2008|
| Jan 2008 |
| Jan 2007 |
| Revenue || ||17659|| 17125 || 17404 |
| Op expenses || || || |
| ||CGS||(11605)|| (11405) || (11554) |
| ||SG&A||(4353)||(3767)|| (4000) |
| || Other ||(0)|| (0) || (0) |
|Operating Income|| ||1249|| 1575 || 1457 |
| Other income || || || |
| || Investments ||0|| 0 || 0 |
| || Interest, etc. ||(192)|| (140) || (123) |
| Pretax income || ||1057|| 1435 || 1334 |
| Income tax || ||(386)|| (531) || (493) |
|Net Income|| ||671|| 904 || 841 |
| ||$0.40||0.50/sh || 0.42/sh |
|Discontinued ops || || || 84 (0.04) |
2. 13 weeks and restated
As for Operating Expenses, we thought the Cost of Goods Sold (CGS) would be 66.6 percent of Revenue, and the actual value was nicely lower at 65.7 percent. Depreciation expenses were 2.6 percent of Revenue, fractionally above our 2.2 percent estimate. Sales, General, and Administrative (SG&A) expenses were 24.7 percent of Revenue, significantly higher than our forecast of 22.0 percent.
The soaring SG&A costs outweighed the lower CGS. On the whole, Operating Expenses were 2.1 percent of Revenue greater than we expected. This led to Operating Income 20.7 percent below the forecast value.
Non-Operating interest expense was a substantial $52 million greater than we expected. The slightly lower than expected Income Tax Rate, 36.5 percent vs. 37.0 percent forecast, wasn't enough to compensate for the higher expenses. As a result, Net Income fell below our prediction by a dismal 25.8 percent.
Cash Management. We estimate the value of this gauge at 8 points.
The following measures contributed the most to the score:
- Days of Sales Outstanding (DSO) = 10.6 days, less than the 13.0-day level one year earlier
- Cash Conversion Cycle Time (CCCT) = 50.3 days, down from 51.9 days, for this measure of efficiency.
- Debt/CFO = 2.1 years (based on an estimate of CFO), up from 1.5 years in January 2007. Debt may be on the rise, but it appears to be affordable.
- Current Ratio =1.2; much weaker than we prefer, but not too much below the five-year median value of 1.3.
- LTD/Equity = 64.3 percent, up from 46.5 percent last year; the company has, intentionally, become much more leveraged as it borrows money to repurchase shares.
- Inventory/CGS = 87.3 days, compared to 84.2 days 12 months ago. The five-year median is much less at 77.4 days, which suggests that sales have been slower than expected.
- Working Capital/Market Capitalization = 3.0 percent, down from 5.4 percent in January 2007.
Growth. We estimate the value of this gauge at 10 points.
The following measure was the only one that contributed meaningfully to the score:
- Revenue/Assets = 174.5 percent, way up from 151.2 percent in a year; stock repurchases decrease assets, which create the illusion of improved sales efficiency.
- Revenue growth = -2.1 percent year-over-year, compared to -3.1 percent previously
- Net Income growth = -20.1 percent year-over-year, compared to -9.8 percent
- CFO growth = -17.6 percent year-over-year (estimated), down from +15.7 percent.
Profitability. We estimate the value of this gauge at 6 points.
The following measures contributed the most to the score:
- FCF/Equity = 15.6 percent (estimated), down from 16.5 percent
- ROIC = 15.0 percent, down just a tad from 15.2 percent in a year
- Accrual Ratio = 3.3 percent (estimated), up from 2.2 percent
- Operating Expenses/Revenue = 90.6 percent, up from 88.8 percent in a year
Value. Home Depot's stock price edged down from $31.51 on 31 October 2007 to $30.64 on 31 January 2008. Using January's closing price, we estimate the value of this gauge at 14 points.
- Enterprise Value/Cash Flow = 10.2 (estimated), down from 12.1 in January 2007 and a five-year median of 12.8.
- P/E = 12.2, down from 15.5 one year earlier. The five-year median P/E is 15.7 (when the company was growing)
- P/E to S&P 500 average P/E = 29 percent discount, compared to a five-year median of a 9 percent discount
- Price/Revenue ratio = 0.72, down from 1.0 last year and its five-year median of 1.07.
We need the full set of financial statements that will be in the 10-K report, but our initial assessment of the Overall Gauge score is 41 out of 100 possible points. The Cash Management, Growth, and Profitability Gauges are all rather weak -- and they might have been even weaker if not for the 14-week quarter -- but the punishment applied to Home Depot (HD) shares is perking up the Value Gauge.