The Margin of Safety (MOS) in stock investing is calculated based on the intrinsic value of a stock compared to its current market price. These calculations can be done in an easy or difficult way. A time-saving and easy method is to use one of the several online calculators available on the internet, such as:

Alpha Spread: Alpha Spread

Omni Calculator: Omni Calculator

Piranha Profits: Piranha Profits

I commonly use the Omni Calculator:

If you are a hardcore mathematician with a penchant for formulas, you can crunch the numbers using the following method:

The formula to calculate the margin of safety is:

Margin of Safety (MOS)=Intrinsic Value−Market Price/Intrinsic Value×100%


  • Intrinsic Value is the estimated real value of the stock, calculated using financial analysis methods like discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis.
  • Market Price is the current price at which the stock is trading in the stock market.

To elaborate, the Margin of Safety is essentially the percentage difference between what you believe the stock is truly worth (intrinsic value) and what it’s currently selling for (market price). A higher MOS suggests that the stock is undervalued, providing a cushion against investment risk and potential errors in your intrinsic value estimation.

For example, if you calculate the intrinsic value of a stock to be  INR100, but it’s currently trading at INR80 in the market, the margin of safety would be:


This means there is a 20% buffer between the price you’d pay and what you believe the stock is actually worth, reducing your risk if your valuation assumptions are slightly off. Investors typically look for a significant margin of safety, often around 20% to 50%, as a protection against market volatility and valuation inaccuracies.

Calculating the intrinsic value of a stock is a complex process and involves various methods. One of the commonly used methods is the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis. The DCF method estimates the present value of a company’s future cash flows to determine its intrinsic value. 

Here’s a simplified version of the DCF formula:

Intrinsic Value=∑(Cash Flown(1+r)n)Intrinsic Value=∑((1+r)nCash Flown​​)


Cash Flow_{n} is the expected cash flow in year n.

r is the discount rate, reflecting the investment’s risk and the time value of money.

n is the year number.

The formula sums the present values of the projected cash flows for each year. The cash flow for a given year is divided by the factor (1+r)n(1+r)n, which discounts it back to its present value. The discount rate (r) is often a topic of debate and can be based on the weighted average cost of capital (WACC), expected return, or another rate that reflects the risk of the investment.

Let’s break it down with an example:

Suppose a company is expected to generate cash flows of INR100,000 in year 1, INR110,000 in year 2, and you anticipate these cash flows to grow over 5 years. If the discount rate is 10%, the intrinsic value calculation for the first two years would be:

Year 1: 100,000 / (1+0.10)= 100,000 / 1.10=90,909.09.

Year 2: 110,000 / (1+0.10)2 = 110,000 / 1.21=90,909.09

You would continue this calculation for each year’s cash flow and sum them up to get the total intrinsic value. It’s important to note that the DCF method requires assumptions about future cash flows and the appropriate discount rate, which can significantly impact the calculated intrinsic value. Additionally, many investors will add the company’s net current asset value or adjust for other balance sheet items to refine the intrinsic value estimate further.

Mastering Margin of Safety: Easy Methods for Calculating Stock Intrinsic Value

When calculating the intrinsic value of stocks, several methods can be employed, each tailored to different types of analysis and investment strategies. Here are a couple of prominent methods:

Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) and Relative Valuation: Alpha Spread suggests using a combination of DCF Valuation and Relative Valuation to estimate the intrinsic value of a stock. DCF focuses on the present value of a company’s future cash flows, while Relative Valuation compares a company’s value to that of similar companies. This combined approach aims to provide a more accurate estimation of a stock’s true worth.

Benjamin Graham’s Formula: Another method, simplified for retail investors, is based on Benjamin Graham’s formula as presented by Omni Calculator. This formula is: V = EPS (8.5 + 2g)Y / 4.4, where V is the intrinsic value of the stock, EPS is the Earnings Per Share, g is the company’s expected growth rate, and Y is the current yield of AAA corporate bonds. This formula has been adjusted from Graham’s original to reflect modern market conditions, particularly in terms of higher overall market P/E ratios and lower interest rates.

PEG Ratio and DCF from Operations: Piranha Profits suggests two common methods: the PEG Ratio method and the DCF method. The PEG Ratio compares a stock’s Price-to-Earnings (PE) Ratio to its Earnings Growth Rate, offering a quick check of a stock’s value. It’s particularly useful when earnings are positive and consistently increasing. The DCF method, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive way to calculate a stock’s intrinsic value, focusing on projecting all future cash flows from operations.

It’s important to note that no single method can guarantee a perfect valuation, and each has its assumptions and requirements. Therefore, investors often use a combination of these methods to cross-verify the intrinsic value of a stock. Additionally, it’s crucial to consider the margin of safety when comparing the calculated intrinsic value to the current market price. This margin serves as a buffer to protect against potential losses, particularly important in volatile market conditions.

Next: Market Maze: Essential Macroeconomics, Market Knowledge, and Fundamental Analysis.

Prof. Dr. Prahlada N. B
15 December 2023

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