Morningstar's Equity Research

Jan 25, 2012

Many people think of Morningstar as a mutual fund research provider. And while that's certainly true, it's only part of the story. In November 2011, Morningstar India launched its equity research division while globally, Morningstar has comprehensive equity research coverage in the countries it is present in.

We evaluate stocks for what they truly are--pieces of a business. Instead of prognosticating short-term price movements or momentum, our analysts focus on determining the value of a business, its risks, and whether the stock price accurately reflects both the value and risk.

Simply put, we look for superior businesses that trade at discounts to their fair values. The market, of course, doesn't always agree with us, so sometimes our recommendations are out of step with consensus thinking. But we believe this approach is the most sensible way to create wealth over the long term.

Determining fair value

This philosophy of fundamental research is the foundation for our valuation model. We believe that:

  • How much capital a company invests and what it earns on that capital drive shareholder value.
  • Free cash flow--not reported earnings--is what counts.
  • As Warren Buffett has said, "Growth is always a component in the calculation of value--sometimes a positive, often a negative." If a company can't earn its cost of capital, growth destroys value instead of creating it.
  • Competitive advantages disappear over time.
  • It's dangerous to assume that the future will be better than the past.

These core beliefs guide our stock analysts as they estimate future cash flow, using their in-depth knowledge of each company and its competitive position within its industry. Our analysts forecast revenue growth, profit margins, and capital investment (and all of the numbers that go into them) for each firm they cover.

Their forecasts for each company populate our discounted cash flow model, which calculates the present value of the company's future discretionary cash flow based on its cost of capital, as determined by our analysts.

A margin of safety

Estimating fair values is no easy process, and we don't presume we'll always be right. So we look for stocks with a deep enough discount to our fair value to offer a reasonable margin of safety--something recommended long ago by Benjamin Graham. Even if we're wrong about our fair value estimate, there is a cushion for investors.

The discount required to earn our highest rating depends on the quality of the company. We believe investors are better served paying a fair price for a firm with great long-term prospects--one that creates economic value--than a "cheap" price for a wealth-destroying company.

One thing we look for is an "economic moat", an ability to keep competitors at bay via factors such as high switching costs for customers, patents or copyrights, or being a low-cost producer.

In general, the wider the economic moat and the lower the risk of the business, the smaller the discount we demand before recommending a stock as a sound investment.


We issued our first Stock Analyst Report on Tata Motors. For each report, we list several data points and produce a PDF data report.

At a glance, the report will touch upon the stock's "fair value", "consider buy", "consider sell", "fair value uncertainty", and its "economic moat".

These analyses include rigorous cash flow models that drive our valuation appraisals and star ratings. All of this information is compiled in the PDF report. We update our star ratings every trading day.

You can access these reports here. Only registered Morningstar members can view these reports (registration is free),

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Jul 31 2022 10:49 PM
I want paid research service for stocks.Please update me.
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