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Estimating The Intrinsic Value Of 51job, Inc. (NASDAQ:JOBS)

Simply Wall St

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How far off is 51job, Inc. (NASDAQ:JOBS) from its intrinsic value? Using the most recent financial data, we'll take a look at whether the stock is fairly priced by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. This is done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.

Companies can be valued in a lot of ways, so we would point out that a DCF is not perfect for every situation. 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.

See our latest analysis for 51job

What's the estimated valuation?

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. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next ten years. 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.

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

2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Levered FCF (CN¥, Millions) CN¥1.5b CN¥1.6b CN¥1.6b CN¥1.7b CN¥1.8b CN¥1.8b CN¥1.9b CN¥1.9b CN¥2.0b CN¥2.0b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Est @ 4.89% Est @ 4.24% Est @ 3.79% Est @ 3.47% Est @ 3.25% Est @ 3.09% Est @ 2.98% Est @ 2.91% Est @ 2.85% Est @ 2.82%
Present Value (CN¥, Millions) Discounted @ 8.27% CN¥1.4k CN¥1.4k CN¥1.3k CN¥1.2k CN¥1.2k CN¥1.1k CN¥1.1k CN¥1.0k CN¥965.1 CN¥916.5

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= CN¥11.6b

The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after the first stage. 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 (2.7%) 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 8.3%.

Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CN¥2.0b × (1 + 2.7%) ÷ (8.3% – 2.7%) = CN¥38b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)10 = CN¥CN¥38b ÷ ( 1 + 8.3%)10 = CN¥16.99b

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 CN¥28.55b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. This results in an intrinsic value estimate in the company’s reported currency of CN¥456.92. However, JOBS’s primary listing is in China, and 1 share of JOBS in CNY represents 0.145 ( CNY/ USD) share of NasdaqGS:JOBS, so the intrinsic value per share in USD is $66.35. Relative to the current share price of $75.88, 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.

NasdaqGS:JOBS Intrinsic value, July 10th 2019

Important assumptions

Now 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 51job 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 8.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.930. 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 51job, I've put together three essential aspects you should look at:

  1. Financial Health: Does JOBS 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 JOBS'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 JOBS? 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 NASDAQ every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.