U.S. Markets open in 5 hrs 26 mins

Is Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ:CECO) Worth US$016.27 Based On Intrinsic Value?

Peter Morris

In this article I am going to calculate the intrinsic value of Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ:CECO) by estimating the company’s future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. I will be using the discounted cash flows (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple! Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model. If you are reading this and its not June 2018 then I highly recommend you check out the latest calculation for Career Education by following the link below. View out our latest analysis for Career Education

The method

I use what is known as a 2-stage model, which simply means we have two different periods of varying growth rates for the company’s cash flows. Generally the first stage is higher growth, and the second stage is a more stable growth phase. To begin with we have to get estimates of the next five years of cash flows. Where possible I use analyst estimates, but when these aren’t available I have extrapolated the previous free cash flow (FCF) from the year before. For this growth rate I used the average annual growth rate over the past five years, but capped at a reasonable level. The sum of these cash flows is then discounted to today’s value.

5-year cash flow forecast

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Levered FCF ($, Millions) $40.00 $74.50 $66.40 $59.27 $52.91
Source Analyst x2 Analyst x2 Analyst x1 Extrapolated @ (-10.73%) Extrapolated @ (-10.73%)
Present Value Discounted @ 8.83% $36.76 $62.91 $51.52 $42.26 $34.67

Present Value of 5-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= US$228.11m

The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business’s cash flow after the first stage. The Gordon Growth formula is used to calculate Terminal Value at an annual growth rate equal to the 10-year government bond rate of 2.9%. We discount this to today’s value at a cost of equity of 8.8%.

Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2022 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$52.91m × (1 + 2.9%) ÷ (8.8% – 2.9%) = US$927.06m

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)5 = US$927.06m ÷ ( 1 + 8.8%)5 = US$607.36m

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the cash flows, which in this case is US$835.47m. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. If the stock is an depositary receipt (represents a specified number of shares in a foreign corporation) then we use the equivalent number. This results in an intrinsic value of $12. Compared to the current share price of $16.27, the stock is rather overvalued and not available at a discount at this time.

NasdaqGS:CECO Intrinsic Value June 26th 18

The assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the cash flows. You don’t have to agree with my inputs, I recommend redoing the calculations yourself and playing with them. Because we are looking at Career Education as potential shareholders, the cost of equity is used as the discount rate, rather than the cost of capital (or weighed average cost of capital, WACC) which accounts for debt. In this calculation I’ve used 8.8%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.833. This is derived from the Bottom-Up Beta method based on comparable companies, with an imposed limit between 0.8 and 2.0, which is a reasonable range for a stable business.

Next Steps:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it shouldn’t be the only metric you look at when researching a company. What is the reason for the share price to differ from the intrinsic value? For CECO, there are three important aspects you should look at:

  1. Financial Health: Does CECO have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
  2. Future Earnings: How does CECO’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.
  3. Other High Quality Alternatives: Are there other high quality stocks you could be holding instead of CECO? Explore our interactive list of high quality stocks to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!

PS. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow for every stock on the NASDAQ every 6 hours. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.


To help readers see pass the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned.