Daniel Sweeney

Daniel Sweeney

What Drives Growth: Analyzing Quantitative Factors that Impact Long-term Corporate Growth Rates and their Variation across Sectors


Daniel J. Sweeney


Dr. David Brown


Warrington College of Business


Value investing is often considered the antithesis of growth investing. However, core to any value investing strategy is an intrinsic valuation, typically calculated using a DCF analysis. One of the most sensitive DCF assumptions is the estimation of a company’s long-term cash flow growth rate. Thus, understanding a company’s growth potential is a vital component in any value thesis. This paper attempts to create a quantitative model to help predict a company’s long-term cash flow growth rate (using EBITDA growth as a proxy for cash flow) and to find the strongest indicators for a company’s growth potential by sector. To do so, this study analyzes variables pertaining to operating efficiency, risk metrics, market valuation, corporate investment levels, and the competitive landscape for large-cap public companies. While all categories contributed at least one statistically significant variable, the market valuation and corporate investment level categories had the highest volume of significant variables. The results show that widely-used quantitative metrics can help predict a meaningful portion of a company’s five-year EBITDA growth rate when analyzed on a sector-by-sector basis. Furthermore, both the types of variable and predictive strength of the model varies widely across sectors. In practice, analysts should shift their focus and prioritize different ratios, metrics, and quantitative variables based on the target company’s sector when estimating the trajectory of a company’s long-term growth rate.


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