If a new company went for IPO, as an investor, how can I determine that I am investing in a good company, since there is no past data available at the exchanges?


You have touched upon a very interesting topic my friend, so brace yourself for a lengthy answer!

You need to think about this in two parts - understanding the Business and estimating a good price (valuation)

Part 1 - Understanding the Business

When a company files for an IPO, the company is bound to give you a prospectus with the following details..

  1. Background of the company, its promoters, directors, early investors, bankers, auditors etc
  2. Plant or service delivery location
  3. Description of products and services
  4. How much money  the company targets to raise?
  5. Why are they raising money and the timeline during which they will utilize the proceeds
  6. At least last 5 year balance sheet, profit and loss and cash flow statements with the respective notes (schedule) to the statements
  7. The company needs to explain their business model in a convincing manner ( you may be interested to know that one of the reasons why Just dial IPO was delayed was because SEBI did not understand their business model)
  8. Threats and opportunities they foresee in their business environment
  9. Forward looking statements – how they see their business growing over the next few years

Now, with all this information, you will obviously get a good understanding on what, why and how of the company. You should also be able to figure out who their competitors are and what advantage or disadvantage they have over others.

Part 2 - Estimating the fair value of the company (valuation)

Assuming you have done a thorough analysis you should have  a fair sense on the business model and the growth prospects of the business.

If you feel the business is too good and you want invest in it, you now need to know the fair price of the stock.

To evaluate the price and check if the price is right, you need a valuation model. There are two types of valuation model that you can build - DCF (discounted cash flow) using Free cash Flow to Firm (FCFF) and comparable valuation.

 I’ll give you the steps for a DCF model because thats the tougher model to build…

Step 1) Input the Historical Balance Sheet and PL numbers

Step 2) Build an assumption sheet on which you have drivers for the BS and PL line items

Step 3) Build a schedule for assets, reserves and debt of the firm

Step 4) Using the schedules and assumptions project the BS and PL for next 5 years

Step 5) Derive the cashflow using indirect method. Note: Cash flow has to be derived using BS and PL. You will know you have derived the cashflow numbers right by cross checking with what the company has published. This also marks a milestone in your valuation model.  Using the projected cashflow numbers, proceed to build a DCF model.

Step 7) Start the DCF model by calculating the free cash flow by subtracting the net current assets, investments, contingent liabilities from the net cash flow of the firm

Step 8) Estimate the terminal value of the firm by growing the last year cash flow by a terminal growth rate

Step 9) Calculate the net present value of the free cash flow to the firm and the terminal growth rate by discounting at a weighted average cost of carry (WACC)

Step 10) Calculate the enterprise value (EV) of the firm by adding the discounted FCFF and terminal growth value

Step 11) To the EV add cash and deduct the debt value to calculate the free cash flow to equity (FCFE) holder

Step 12) Divide the FCFE by the share capital to estimate the fair price of per stock!

Step 13) Check the IPO price or for that matter the market price of the stock with the fair value. If the market (or IPO) price is more than what you have calculated then it means the stock is overvalued. However if the fair price is higher than what is being offered in the IPO/market then you have an opportunity, therefore go ahead and buy the stock!

Step 14) There is always a room for error when you are building a financial model, always remember this and therefore make room for model errors.

So if ever you plan to invest in stocks, these are the things you need to do. If you can do this, perhaps you are setting yourself on the most flawless way to make money in the stock market (according to me of course). If not for anything…you can assure yourself a job of a good quality Equity Analyst :-)

Good luck and stay invested! 


In my opinion, The simpler way to check about an IPO is its oversubsription ratio.

For example if an IPO is oversubscribed say above 5 times, say 15 times or so, then it means the IPO is having huge demand.
(Not for very small companies, where the number of shares itself will be very less)

So you need to wait for the last day of IPO (say it is open for 4 days, wait for the 4th day until noon)
and check for the oversubsciption data on Total number of shares.
Under retail investers see how much demand is there,
(if demand is very high, then the number of shares you will get will become less)
Accordingly decide how much you will invest and apply for the IPO. 50k investment is usually good.
Note: You should always apply for the IPO in the maximum price within the range of issue. (Otherwise you may not be allotted with shares)

Since the demand was high, on listing day, usually the IPO Scrip will be listed with a higher price (than what you have bought).
If upto you to choose to stay in the market or sell your shares and book profits.

You can get the Oversubscription data from nse website
nseindia.com >>> Product Offerings >>> IPO >>> Current Issue at NSE >>> Click the company name>>> Scroll down to see the Bid quanities and oversubscription number of times

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You may want to use the following tags for you questions - IPO, Valuation, Financial Modeling, Equity Research, Fundamental Analysis

Perfect timing…Wonderla is filing for an IPO and you can find the prospectus here…http://www.sebi.gov.in/cms/sebi_data/attachdocs/1366268567671.pdf
Will be happy to help you build the valuation model if interested.

Thanks for the detailed reply Karthik - Sometimes i wonder how you guys accrue so much knowledge about the markets.
Have you build any model excel sheets to bring about the valuation?

Yes, I try an build a valuation model for every long term investments that I make :slight_smile:

Beatiful explanation.

Your answer is so much helpful karthik… Thanks for that… :slight_smile:

My pleasure Jagadeesh.

@ Karthik,
Good one. Hats off dude

Hi, @Karthik , I am a keen reader of Zerodha Varsity. One year ago, I had absolutely no exposure to capital market. It is the Varsity, which gave me confidence. Thanks for your efforts.

You must know CDSL IPO is coming. I am trying to build the valuation model according to the DCF method. I have used the sheet you uploaded in the Fundamental Analysis module of Varsity. As I am a beginner, I would like to request you to have a look in my work and enrich me with your advice.

Here is my sheet (Oops! your sheet. :wink:)

I looked it. Seems fine…however, I would be too comfortable with a 18% and 10% growth rates for CDSL. Remember, CDSL although is old, it is a very niche industry…growth will be tricky. I’d be comfortable with something like 12 or 13% and maybe around 8% later on. Of course, these are just my thought :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot @Karthik, so it is not an investment bet. Do I get it right ? In fact you have already advised to avoid IPOs because they are usually overpriced. I think it would be interesting to generate a DCF valuation of Avenue Supermarts according to its RHP, because it received huge participation.

Dear Karthik,
Awesome explanation, I was puzzled with your analysis.
Could you please let us know the reliable sources to gain insight into.

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I guess nothing really beats reading through the annual report. You read the AR and do basic FA - this will be a great start.

@Karthik How does one assume discounting rate?

How one can sure about company is not doing anything wrong on their books of accounts.

Do Auditors are responsible for this ?

There are lots of frauds happening these days. I think government has come with some new rules. I haven’t read it.

I believe that if a company went for IPO then most of the time it is obvious that earnings and risk taking capacity is high. Nowadays SEBI has very stringent laws for any company to get listed. I would say that before investing in an IPO, investors must go through the annual report of the company and red herring prospectus issued by the company to SEBI for approval.

** UPDATE **

Hi guys, I am receiving a lot of requests from users to access the DCF valuation sheet for CDSL that I prepared a few years back using @Karthik’s sheet. I think there is some problem with the old Drive link because of some security updates from Google.

However, here is the new link using which one can view and download the spreadsheet. To download the sheet go to File > Download.

Kindly note that the permission is restricted to view only to avoid the inconvenience of any random edit. However, one can download the sheet and edit it. Hope this helps. Thank you for your understanding.

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