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Estimating The Fair Value Of carsales.com Ltd (ASX:CAR)

Simply Wall St

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of carsales.com Ltd (ASX:CAR) by taking the foreast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. This is done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

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.

Check out our latest analysis for carsales.com

Is carsales.com fairly valued?

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. To begin with, we have to get estimates of the next ten years of cash flows. 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, so we need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Levered FCF (A$, Millions) AU$151.3m AU$162.7m AU$176.6m AU$198.2m AU$224.0m AU$241.7m AU$255.8m AU$267.1m AU$276.2m AU$283.7m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x5 Analyst x4 Analyst x3 Analyst x3 Analyst x2 Est @ 7.88% Est @ 5.84% Est @ 4.41% Est @ 3.41% Est @ 2.71%
Present Value (A$, Millions) Discounted @ 7.0% AU$141 AU$142 AU$144 AU$151 AU$160 AU$161 AU$159 AU$155 AU$150 AU$144

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = AU$1.5b

We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. The Gordon Growth formula is used to calculate Terminal Value at a future annual growth rate equal to the 10-year government bond rate of 1.1%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.0%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = AU$284m× (1 + 1.1%) ÷ 7.0%– 1.1%) = AU$4.8b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= AU$4.8b÷ ( 1 + 7.0%)10= AU$2.5b

The total value is the sum of cash flows for the next ten years plus the discounted terminal value, which results in the Total Equity Value, which in this case is AU$4.0b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of AU$16.1, the company appears about fair value at a 0.6% discount to where the stock price trades currently. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.

ASX:CAR Intrinsic value, March 8th 2020

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 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 carsales.com 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 7.0%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.090. 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.

Next Steps:

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 carsales.com, We've compiled three pertinent aspects you should look at:

  1. Risks: For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for carsales.com that you should be aware of.
  2. Future Earnings: How does CAR'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 Solid Businesses: Low debt, high returns on equity and good past performance are fundamental to a strong business. Why not explore our interactive list of stocks with solid business fundamentals to see if there are other companies you may not have considered!

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

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.