# CFA Level 1 Equity: Our Cheat Sheet

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If you’re following our recommended Level 1 topic study order: after going through Quant, FRA and Fixed Income, CFA Level 1 Equity Investments would be a lovely topic in comparison.

Since Equity is a relatively gentle section of the curriculum, it provides an opportunity to maximize your score without feeling like you’ve endured the academic equivalent of dental surgery. Don’t discount it! 😅

We’ve created this Level 1 Equity Cheat Sheet to help speed up your revision of this section.

Our Cheat Sheet series focuses on one specific topic area for each CFA Level.

More Cheat Sheets will be published in the coming weeks, sign up to our member’s list to be notified first.

By referring to the CFA Learning Outcome Statements (LOS), we prioritize and highlight the absolute key concepts and formula you need to know for each topic. With some tips at the end too!

Let’s have a look – bookmark this and check back often to refresh your memory!

## CFA Level 1 Equity: An Overview

Equity Investments is an important asset class in finance, with a similar topic weight across all 3 levels of the CFA exams.

Fair warning though, as the topic weights can be somewhat deceptive. While having similar weighting to Economics, Equity Investment topics are more likely to reappear in other topics throughout the curriculum – even if indirectly.

For example, Alternative Investments are considered “alternative” because they are different than Equity (and Fixed Income) and it is difficult to understand these differences without having first acquired a strong understanding of the Equity readings.

CFA Level 1 Equity Investments’ topic weighting is 10%-12%, which means 18-22 questions of the 180 questions of CFA Level 1 exam is centered around this topic.

It is covered in Study Sessions 12-13, which includes Reading 36-41.

Note that the CFA Level 1 Equity section contains 6 readings, but only 3 of these focus exclusively on equities.

Here’s a summary of Level 1 Equity Investments chapter readings:

The Equity readings, in a nutshell, are about understanding what makes equities different as an asset class, how to value equities, and how to measure the performance of equity investments.

In short, CFA Level 1 Equity Investments teaches you:

– about the functions and characteristics of a well functioning financial system;
– about market efficiency, behavioural finance and various biases;
– how to value equity with various methods.

## Reading 36: Market Organization and Structure

### Leveraged positions (buying stock on margin)

Leverage ratio measures the amount borrowed relative to the total value of the asset. It is also the reciprocal of the initial margin (a.k.a. trader’s equity).

Traders receive a margin call when price of equity falls below the maintenance margin requirement.

## Reading 37: Security Market Indexes

### Index weighting methods

 Price weighting Weight of each security is determined by dividing its price by the sum of total prices in the index. Pros: simple Cons: arbitrary weights Equal weighting Each security is given identical weight at inception. ${w}_{i}^{E}=\frac{1}{N}$ Pros: simple Cons: frequent rebalancing needed, and high market cap stocks are underrepresented Market-cap weighting Weight of each security is determined by dividing its market cap by the total market cap of the index. Pros: securities held in proportion to value. Cons: influenced by overpriced securities Fundamental weighting Weight of each security is determined by measures such as book value, P/E,  cash flow, revenue etc. Pros: biased towards value stocks (value tilt) Cons: doesn’t consider market value, needs rebalancing.

## Reading 39: Overview of Equity Securities

### Risk of equity securities

1. Preference shares have lower risk than common shares because:
• preferred dividends are fixed and they form a larger portion of total return in case of preference shares,
• preference shares rank above common shares in their claim on earnings and net assets (in the event of liquidation).

2. Putable shares have a lower risk than callable or non-callable shares because they can be sold back to the issuer if the stock price falls below a threshold. Hence putable shares have lower dividends.

3. Callable common and preference shares are more risky than their non-callable equivalents because the issuer can buy back the shares at a pre-determined price.

4. Similarly, cumulative shares have a lower risk (and hence lower dividends) than non-cumulative shares as they accrue unpaid dividends.

## Reading 40: Introduction to Industry and Company Analysis

### Porter’s five forces

1. Threat of substitutes
2. Customer’s bargaining power
3. Supplier’s bargaining power
4. Threat of new entrants
5. Intensity of rivalry among existing competitors

## Reading 41: Equity Valuation: Concepts and Basic Tools

### Types of equity valuation models

1. Present value models: Estimate value as present value of expected future benefits, e.g. dividend discount models, free cash flow to equity models
2. Multiplier models: Estimate intrinsic value based on multiple of some fundamental variable. E.g. price to earnings, price to book value, enterprise value (EV) to EBITDA ratios.
3. Asset-based valuation models: Estimate value of equity as fair value of assets less fair value of liabilities.

### Dividend payment chronology

1. Declaration date: Company declares the dividend
2. Ex-dividend date: Cutoff date on or after which buyers of a stock are not eligible for the dividend. Also the first date where the stock trades without dividend.
3. Holder-of-record date: A record of shareholders who are eligible to receive dividend is made, usually 2 days after ex-dividend date.
4. Payment date: dividend payment made to shareholders

### Dividend discount model (DDM)

Intrinsic value = PV of future dividends + PV of terminal value

${V}_{0}=\sum _{t=1}^{n}\frac{{D}^{t}}{{\left(1+r\right)}^{t}}+\frac{{P}^{n}}{{\left(1+r\right)}^{n}}$

#### Gordon growth model

Gordon growth model assumes dividends grows forever at a constant rate.

where g = dividend growth rate
= earnings retention ratio x ROE
= (1- dividend payout ratio) x ROE

#### Preferred stock valuation

For valuation of perpetual, non-callable, non-convertible preferred share with constant dividend:

${V}_{0}=\frac{{D}_{0}}{r}$

### Price multiples

1. Price to earnings ratio (P/E)

2. Price to book ratio (P/B)

3. Price to sales ratio (P/S)

4. Price to cashflow ratio (P/CF)

5. Enterprise value

Enterprise value is an alternate measure for equity which measures the market value of a firm’s debt and equity. It can be viewed as the cost of taking over a company.

EV = Market value of debt + Market value of equity + Market value of preferred stock – cash and short term investments

EV/EBITDA multiple is useful for comparing companies with different capital structures, to evaluate the cost of a takeover and for analyzing loss making companies.

That said, a limitation of EV method is that market value of debt can be hard to estimate.

## CFA Level 1 Equity Tips

### Master Equity Investments to maximize your score

​As noted above, the Equity topic is among the more “pleasant” parts of the Level 1. This is not to say that the Equity Investments material is easy and can be taken for granted – just that it contains few(er) nasty surprises.

Given it’s relative ease compared to its topic weight for CFA Level 1, mastering this topic is a good return on investment, don’t skip it!

Our recommended CFA Level 1 topic study order suggests covering Equity right after the big, more demanding topics such as Quant, FRA and Fixed Income.

### Don’t forget to practice quantitative Equity questions too

While it is reasonable to expect that the majority of Equity questions will be qualitative, don’t assume that the questions that do require calculations will be simple.

It is therefore important to become familiar with your calculator – specifically, the features that allow you to determine the present value of a series of cash flows.

It is also important to develop a fluency with the formulae associated with these readings. By “fluency,” I mean knowledge of a formula beyond being able to recite it from memory, such as the ability to rearrange or restate it in order to solve for a given variable.

For example, know how to use the Gordon growth model to solve for the long-term growth rate or required return, not just the present value. Such fluency is also required in order to answer the following example question:

A company has recently paid a dividend of \$1.20 per share. Analysts expect the company to maintain its 40% retention rate and increase its dividend per share dividend at an annual rate of 3.0% indefinitely. If the market requires a 9.0% return on equity, the forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio for the company’s stock is closest to:
A. 6.7
B. 10.0
C. 10.6

The forward P/E for a stock is calculated as followsP0/E1 = (D1/E1)/(r – g) where P0 = current stock price
E1 = next period’s earnings per share
D1 = next period’s dividends per share
r = required rate of return
g = dividend growth rate

Note that D1/E1 is the dividend payout ratio, which is calculated as one minus the retention ratio (or 1 – b).We can restate the above formula as follows

P0/E1 = (1 – b)/(r – g) = (1 – 40%)/(9% – 3%)
= 10.0

It is possible to disregard the value of next period’s dividend and earnings per share because, having restated the formula, all that matters is their ratio relative to each other and we know that this will not change because we are told that the company is expected to maintain its retention rate (and therefore maintain its payout ratio).

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