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ePlus inc. (NASDAQ:PLUS) Investors Are Paying Above The Intrinsic Value

Today I will be providing a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of ePlus inc. (NASDAQ:PLUS) as an investment opportunity by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today’s value. I will be using the discounted cash flows (DCF) model. Don’t get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward. 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 January 2019 then I highly recommend you check out the latest calculation for ePlus by following the link below.

Step by step through the calculation

I’m using the 2-stage growth model, which simply means we take in account two stages of company’s growth. In the initial period the company may have a higher growth rate and the second stage is usually assumed to have perpetual stable growth rate. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next five years. For this I used the consensus of the analysts covering the stock, as you can see below. I then discount this to its value today and sum up the total to get the present value of these cash flows.

5-year cash flow estimate

 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 Levered FCF (\$, Millions) \$27.35 \$60.95 \$73.50 \$66.00 \$76.00 Source Analyst x2 Analyst x2 Analyst x2 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Present Value Discounted @ 11.31% \$24.57 \$49.19 \$53.29 \$42.99 \$44.47

Present Value of 5-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= US\$215m

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the intial 5-year period we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows beyond 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 11.3%.

Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2023 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US\$76m × (1 + 2.9%) ÷ (11.3% – 2.9%) = US\$936m

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)5 = US\$936m ÷ ( 1 + 11.3%)5 = US\$548m

The total value is the sum of cash flows for the next five years and the discounted terminal value, which results in the Total Equity Value, which in this case is US\$762m. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding, or the equivalent number if this is a depositary receipt or ADR. This results in an intrinsic value of \$55.6. Relative to the current share price of \$73.66, the stock is quite expensive and not available at a discount at this time.

The assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the cash flows. If you don’t agree with my result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the assumptions. Because we are looking at ePlus 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 11.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.186. 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 PLUS, I’ve compiled three key factors you should further research:

1. Financial Health: Does PLUS 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 PLUS’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 PLUS? 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 past 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. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.