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Estimating The Fair Value Of Packaging Corporation of America (NYSE:PKG)

Simply Wall St

Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Packaging Corporation of America (NYSE:PKG) as an investment opportunity by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them 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.

View our latest analysis for Packaging Corporation of America

Crunching the numbers

We're 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 a stable growth rate. 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 discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today's dollars:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

Levered FCF ($, Millions)

US$651.3m

US$616.0m

US$597.1m

US$587.4m

US$583.8m

US$584.4m

US$587.8m

US$593.3m

US$600.3m

US$608.3m

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x4

Analyst x3

Est @ -3.06%

Est @ -1.62%

Est @ -0.61%

Est @ 0.09%

Est @ 0.59%

Est @ 0.93%

Est @ 1.17%

Est @ 1.34%

Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.2%

US$608

US$536

US$485

US$445

US$413

US$385

US$362

US$341

US$322

US$304

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$4.2b

We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of a country's GDP growth. In this case we have used the 10-year government bond rate (1.7%) to estimate future growth. In the same way as with the 10-year 'growth' period, we discount future cash flows to today's value, using a cost of equity of 7.2%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$608m× (1 + 1.7%) ÷ 7.2%– 1.7%) = US$11b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$11b÷ ( 1 + 7.2%)10= US$5.7b

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$9.9b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$98.9, the company appears about fair value at a 6.0% 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.

NYSE:PKG Intrinsic value, February 25th 2020
NYSE:PKG Intrinsic value, February 25th 2020

The assumptions

We would point out that the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate and of course the actual cash flows. You don't have to agree with these inputs, I recommend redoing the calculations yourself and playing with them. 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 Packaging Corporation of America 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 7.2%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.000. 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 Packaging Corporation of America, I've compiled three important aspects you should further research:

  1. Financial Health: Does PKG 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 PKG'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 PKG? 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 valuation for every stock on the NYSE 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.