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In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of GFL Environmental Inc. (TSE:GFL) by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. We will take advantage of the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model for this purpose. There's really not all that much to it, even though it might appear quite complex.
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.
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. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next ten years. 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
Levered FCF (CA$, Millions)
Growth Rate Estimate Source
Est @ 7.28%
Est @ 5.55%
Est @ 4.35%
Est @ 3.5%
Est @ 2.91%
Est @ 2.5%
Present Value (CA$, Millions) Discounted @ 7.0%
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = CA$6.1b
After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the initial 10-year period, we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all future cash flows beyond the first stage. 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 1.5%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.0%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CA$1.1b× (1 + 1.5%) ÷ (7.0%– 1.5%) = CA$20b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= CA$20b÷ ( 1 + 7.0%)10= CA$10b
The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is CA$16b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of CA$40.1, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 20% 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.
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. 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 GFL Environmental 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 7.0%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.152. 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.
Whilst important, the DCF calculation ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. It's not possible to obtain a foolproof valuation with a DCF model. 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. For example, changes in the company's cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. Can we work out why the company is trading at a discount to intrinsic value? For GFL Environmental, we've put together three essential aspects you should assess:
Risks: We feel that you should assess the 2 warning signs for GFL Environmental we've flagged before making an investment in the company.
Future Earnings: How does GFL'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.
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 Canadian 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.
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