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HomeInvestmentFor the Analyst: Peer Benchmarking Strategies to Enhance Earnings Forecasts

For the Analyst: Peer Benchmarking Strategies to Enhance Earnings Forecasts

Discovering appropriate friends for monetary evaluation is a vexing process that requires cautious consideration of companies’ underlying economics, accounting selections, and monetary assertion presentation. However with out comparable monetary assertion data, peer benchmarking might yield much less significant and even deceptive insights that negatively influence earnings forecasts.

In a current research printed in The Accounting Assessment, we developed a technique to determine comparable companies for benchmarking and analyzed its implications for analyst outcomes and valuation with multiples. On this submit, we are going to spotlight the salient particulars, a few of which can shock you.

There are alternative ways to outline peer companies, reminiscent of {industry} membership, inventory index membership, closeness in market capitalization, and similarity in worth drivers (e.g., P/E ratio, return-on-invested capital, and development).

As an alternative choice to conventional classifications, researchers have examined new methods to determine peer companies, reminiscent of buyers’ co-search, depth of companies’ filings with the SEC’s EDGAR, and inventory data on Yahoo! Finance.

These extensively utilized strategies fail to straight handle a vital facet of agency benchmarking: the provision of key monetary assertion data for peer companies. When a number of monetary assertion line objects are lacking for a peer agency, analysts battle to derive significant inferences from the comparative to the focal agency’s monetary statements.

Our monetary assertion benchmarking (FSB) measure goals to fill this hole. The information and code are freely accessible on our web site.

Capturing the Diploma of Overlap Between Monetary Assertion Objects

Constructed on the Jaccard similarity coefficient, pairwise FSB captures the diploma of overlap in monetary assertion objects reported by two companies, with scores starting from 0 (no overlap) to 1 (full overlap). The upper the FSB rating, the higher the benchmarking data accessible to exterior customers.

For example, if the focal agency has reported 270 objects, 200 of which overlap with 220 objects reported by the peer agency, the FSB rating is 0.69 (200 / (270 + 220 – 200). To place this into context, the typical rating for analyst-chosen friends in our pattern is 0.68.

Assuming that FSB is a useful metric in capturing the similarity of two companies’ underlying economics and accounting selections, we anticipate it to be positively correlated with analysts’ selections of peer companies.

Our pattern of analyst-chosen friends comes from a Assessment of Accounting Research article, “Analysts’ selection of peer firms.” By manually screening greater than 2,500 sell-side fairness analysts’ experiences, the authors extracted knowledge on comparable peer companies chosen for the focal agency in every report.

In our research, for every analyst-chosen peer agency, we chosen an identical agency in the identical {industry} that was not chosen however which had an analogous measurement and valuation a number of. The outcomes present that analysts have a tendency to decide on peer companies which are extra similar to a focal agency from a monetary assertion benchmarking perspective.

When FSB is greater by one-standard-deviation, the chance of being chosen as a peer agency by an analyst will increase by 13%.

Larger FSBs Improve Accuracy of Earnings Forecasts

Does selecting friends with greater FSBs have optimistic implications for analyst efficiency? We discover that when the typical FSB of the set of analyst-chosen peer companies is one-standard-deviation greater, the accuracy of analysts’ earnings forecasts will increase by about 23%.

When deciding on peer companies, search for companies which have extra related monetary statements to the focal agency, even when which means looking out exterior the focal agency’s important {industry}. In truth, solely 40% of the analyst-chosen peer companies function in the identical product market because the focal agency.

Which firms do you suppose could be good peer companies to decide on when analyzing Colgate-Palmolive? Morningstar lists Procter & Gamble and Unilever as high friends for the corporate. Regardless of being listed on a US inventory change, Unilever has a modest 0.69 FSB rating with Colgate-Palmolive.

That is possible as a result of the corporate makes use of Worldwide Monetary Reporting Requirements to organize its monetary statements. Utilizing completely different accounting requirements reduces comparability resulting from variations within the recognition and presentation guidelines. In distinction, P&G and Colgate-Palmolive have the next FSB rating of 0.77, suggesting a higher comparability than Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive.

In distinction to Morningstar’s method, Google Finance creates a listing of peer companies based mostly on buyers’ co-search exercise. Notably, among the many peer companies Google Finance lists for Colgate-Palmolive is Coca-Cola. Though this commentary could seem unintuitive at first blush, our methodology means that, from a monetary assertion benchmarking perspective, Coca-Cola could be a wonderful match on this case as a result of its FSB rating with Colgate-Palmolive is properly above the typical at 0.82. This may occasionally clarify why buyers extensively co-search the monetary data of the 2 firms.

Validation and Testing

After validating and testing the pairwise FSB metric, we aggregated knowledge throughout all {industry} friends of the focal agency to grasp how simple it’s to benchmark a agency’s monetary statements general. This course of yielded a big panel of firm-level FSB knowledge. Additionally, to complement our methodology, we decomposed FSB on the monetary assertion stage, producing separate FSB scores for the earnings assertion, steadiness sheet, and assertion of money flows.

Financial Analysts Journal Current Issue Tile

Whereas analysts’ consensus earnings and internet debt forecasts are extra correct when firm-level FSB is excessive (i.e., it’s simple to benchmark and perceive a agency’s monetary statements), earnings assertion and steadiness sheet benchmarking play completely different roles in these outcomes.

We discover that the Revenue assertion FSB rating predicts the accuracy of earnings forecasts however not internet debt forecasts. In distinction, steadiness sheet FSB rating predicts the accuracy of internet debt forecasts, however not earnings forecasts. In financial phrases, a one-standard-deviation enhance in earnings assertion (steadiness sheet) FSB is related to a 17.3% (12.1%) extra correct consensus earnings (internet debt) forecasts. These findings spotlight that benchmarking advantages rely upon the context of the evaluation. 

For the Investor: Trade, Trade-Dimension, or FSB Friends

Past optimistic analyst outcomes, a key query for buyers is whether or not selecting peer companies based mostly on FSB improves valuation with comparables. To this finish, we in contrast the predictive means of the valuation multiples fashioned utilizing FSB-based friends to these of the fashions using conventional strategies for peer agency choice, reminiscent of industry- and size-based friends. Particularly, we regressed the long run enterprise value-to-sales ratio (EVS) of the focal agency on the typical EVS calculated for 3 units of friends: (1) {industry} friends, (2) industry-size friends, and (3) FSB friends. 

When predicting one-year, two-year, and three-year-ahead EVS, the fashions utilizing the typical valuation a number of of FSB-based friends constantly outperform these using solely industry- and industry-size friends. For example, the R-squared of the mannequin predicting one-year-ahead EVS will increase from 24.8% to 31.8% when the typical EVS of the 4 highest FSB friends is included within the mannequin.

In conclusion, we word that FSB is a straightforward, easy measure summarizing the overlap in peer companies’ underlying economics and accounting selections, that are the important thing elements that form monetary statements. FSB is on the market on the pairwise and agency ranges, permitting exterior customers to seek out appropriate peer companies for varied functions, together with relative efficiency, compensation, and valuation benchmarking.

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