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Estimating The Fair Value Of Mainfreight Limited (NZSE:MFT)

Simply Wall St

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Mainfreight Limited (NZSE:MFT) by taking the foreast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. I will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

We generally believe that a company's value is the present value of all of the cash it will generate in the future. However, a DCF is just one valuation metric among many, and it is not without flaws. If you want to learn more about discounted cash flow, the rationale behind this calculation can be read in detail in the Simply Wall St analysis model.

Check out our latest analysis for Mainfreight

Step by step through the calculation

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. Seeing as no analyst estimates of free cash flow are available to us, we have extrapolate the previous free cash flow (FCF) from the company's last 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 (NZ$, Millions) NZ$111.9m NZ$131.6m NZ$148.8m NZ$163.5m NZ$176.2m NZ$187.1m NZ$196.7m NZ$205.3m NZ$213.1m NZ$220.5m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Est @ 23.99% Est @ 17.57% Est @ 13.08% Est @ 9.94% Est @ 7.73% Est @ 6.19% Est @ 5.12% Est @ 4.36% Est @ 3.83% Est @ 3.46%
Present Value (NZ$, Millions) Discounted @ 7.6% NZ$104 NZ$114 NZ$120 NZ$122 NZ$122 NZ$121 NZ$118 NZ$115 NZ$111 NZ$106

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = NZ$1.2b

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 a future annual growth rate equal to the 10-year government bond rate of 2.6%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.6%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = NZ$221m× (1 + 2.6%) ÷ 7.6%– 2.6%) = NZ$4.6b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= NZ$4.6b÷ ( 1 + 7.6%)10= NZ$2.2b

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 NZ$3.3b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of NZ$35.6, the company appears around fair value at the time of writing. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.

NZSE:MFT Intrinsic value May 23rd 2020

The assumptions

Now the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate, and of course, the actual 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 Mainfreight 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 7.6%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.826. 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. 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 Mainfreight, We've put together three additional aspects you should further examine:

  1. Risks: To that end, you should be aware of the 1 warning sign we've spotted with Mainfreight .
  2. Future Earnings: How does MFT'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 NZ stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

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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. Thank you for reading.