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Estimating The Fair Value Of Comfort Systems USA, Inc. (NYSE:FIX)

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·5 min read
In this article:
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In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Comfort Systems USA, Inc. (NYSE:FIX) by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today's value. One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

We would caution that there are many ways of valuing a company and, like the DCF, each technique has advantages and disadvantages in certain scenarios. If you still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

View our latest analysis for Comfort Systems USA

Crunching the numbers

We use what is known as a 2-stage model, which simply means we have two different periods of growth rates for the company's cash flows. Generally the first stage is higher growth, and the second stage is a lower growth phase. 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.

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) estimate

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

2030

2031

Levered FCF ($, Millions)

US$180.2m

US$162.9m

US$153.0m

US$147.3m

US$144.4m

US$143.3m

US$143.4m

US$144.3m

US$145.8m

US$147.7m

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x2

Est @ -9.58%

Est @ -6.11%

Est @ -3.68%

Est @ -1.98%

Est @ -0.79%

Est @ 0.05%

Est @ 0.63%

Est @ 1.04%

Est @ 1.32%

Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.1%

US$168

US$142

US$125

US$112

US$103

US$95.0

US$88.7

US$83.3

US$78.6

US$74.4

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$1.1b

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)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$148m× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (7.1%– 2.0%) = US$2.9b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$2.9b÷ ( 1 + 7.1%)10= US$1.5b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is US$2.6b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$75.7, 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

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the cash flows. Part of investing is coming up with your own evaluation of a company's future performance, so try the calculation yourself and check your own 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 Comfort Systems USA 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 1.082. 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 ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Instead the best use for a DCF model is to test certain assumptions and theories to see if they would lead to the company being undervalued or 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 Comfort Systems USA, we've compiled three further factors you should further examine:

  1. Financial Health: Does FIX 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 FIX'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: Do you like a good all-rounder? 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 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. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.