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Estimating The Fair Value Of Cloudflare, Inc. (NYSE:NET)

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Simply Wall St
·6 min read
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Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Cloudflare, Inc. (NYSE:NET) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today's value. Our analysis will employ the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. There's really not all that much to it, even though it might appear quite complex.

Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. If you still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

See our latest analysis for Cloudflare

What's the estimated valuation?

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 start off with, we need to estimate 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.

A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

2030

Levered FCF ($, Millions)

-US$46.9m

-US$17.9m

US$54.8m

US$201.0m

US$482.3m

US$741.1m

US$1.02b

US$1.30b

US$1.56b

US$1.79b

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x11

Analyst x7

Analyst x2

Analyst x1

Analyst x1

Est @ 53.67%

Est @ 38.18%

Est @ 27.34%

Est @ 19.75%

Est @ 14.44%

Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.1%

-US$43.8

-US$15.6

US$44.5

US$153

US$342

US$490

US$632

US$751

US$840

US$897

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$4.1b

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 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield of 2.0%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.1%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$1.8b× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (7.1%– 2.0%) = US$36b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$36b÷ ( 1 + 7.1%)10= US$18b

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 US$22b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$76.0, the company appears around fair value at the time of writing. 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.

dcf
dcf

Important assumptions

Now 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 Cloudflare 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 7.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.975. 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:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it shouldn't be the only metric you look at when researching a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. 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 Cloudflare, we've put together three essential elements you should consider:

  1. Risks: Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 4 warning signs with Cloudflare , and understanding these should be part of your investment process.

  2. Future Earnings: How does NET'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. Simply Wall St updates its DCF calculation for every American stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.