Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Absolute Software Corporation (TSE:ABT) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today's value. This is done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.
Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.
Crunching the numbers
We are going to use a two-stage DCF model, which, as the name states, takes into account two stages of growth. The first stage is generally a higher growth period which levels off heading towards the terminal value, captured in the second 'steady growth' period. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next ten years. Where possible we use analyst estimates, but when these aren't available we extrapolate the previous free cash flow (FCF) from the last estimate or reported value. We assume companies with shrinking free cash flow will slow their rate of shrinkage, and that companies with growing free cash flow will see their growth rate slow, over this period. We do this to reflect that growth tends to slow more in the early years than it does in later years.
Generally we assume that a dollar today is more valuable than a dollar in the future, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||$13.0m||$14.7m||$16.1m||$17.2m||$18.2m||$19.0m||$19.7m||$20.3m||$20.9m||$21.4m|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x2||Analyst x1||Est @ 9.22%||Est @ 7.04%||Est @ 5.51%||Est @ 4.44%||Est @ 3.69%||Est @ 3.17%||Est @ 2.8%||Est @ 2.55%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.38%||$12.0||$12.5||$12.6||$12.5||$12.1||$11.7||$11.2||$10.7||$10.1||$9.6|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= $115.0m
The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after the first stage. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of a country's GDP growth. In this case we have used the 10-year government bond rate (1.9%) to estimate future growth. In the same way as with the 10-year 'growth' period, we discount future cash flows to today's value, using a cost of equity of 8.4%.
Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$21m × (1 + 1.9%) ÷ (8.4% – 1.9%) = US$339m
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)10 = $US$339m ÷ ( 1 + 8.4%)10 = $151.64m
The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is $266.68m. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. This results in an intrinsic value estimate in the company’s reported currency of $6.41. However, ABT’s primary listing is in Canada, and 1 share of ABT in USD represents 1.328 ( USD/ CAD) share of TSX:ABT, so the intrinsic value per share in CAD is CA$8.51. Compared to the current share price of CA$7.59, the company appears about fair value at a 11% discount to where the stock price trades currently. Valuations are imprecise instruments though, rather like a telescope - move a few degrees and end up in a different galaxy. Do keep this in mind.
We would point out that the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate and of course the actual cash flows. If you don't agree with these result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the assumptions. The DCF also does not consider the possible cyclicality of an industry, or a company's future capital requirements, so it does not give a full picture of a company's potential performance. Given that we are looking at Absolute Software as potential shareholders, the cost of equity is used as the discount rate, rather than the cost of capital (or weighted average cost of capital, WACC) which accounts for debt. In this calculation we've used 8.4%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.079. Beta is a measure of a stock's volatility, compared to the market as a whole. We get our beta from the industry average beta of globally comparable companies, with an imposed limit between 0.8 and 2.0, which is a reasonable range for a stable business.
Although the valuation of a company is important, it shouldn’t be the only metric you look at when researching a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Rather it should be seen as a guide to "what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/overvalued?" If a company grows at a different rate, or if its cost of equity or risk free rate changes sharply, the output can look very different. For Absolute Software, I've compiled three further factors you should further examine:
- Future Earnings: How does ABT's growth rate compare to its peers and the wider market? Dig deeper into the analyst consensus number for the upcoming years by interacting with our free analyst growth expectation chart.
- Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for ABT's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
- Other High Quality Alternatives: Are there other high quality stocks you could be holding instead of ABT? Explore our interactive list of high quality stocks to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!
PS. Simply Wall St updates its DCF calculation for every CA stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.