Does the December share price for Square, Inc. (NYSE:SQ) reflect it’s really worth? Today, I will calculate the stock’s intrinsic value by taking the foreast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today’s value. I will be using the discounted cash flows (DCF) model. Don’t get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model. Please also note that this article was written in December 2018 so be sure check out the updated calculation by following the link below.

See our latest analysis for Square

### What’s the value?

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 begin with we have to get estimates of the next five years of cash flows. For this I used the consensus of the analysts covering the stock, as you can see below. I then discount this to its value today and sum up the total to get the present value of these cash flows.

#### 5-year cash flow forecast

2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023 | |

Levered FCF ($, Millions) | $343.36 | $567.83 | $920.06 | $1.29k | $1.50k |

Source | Analyst x5 | Analyst x5 | Analyst x4 | Analyst x2 | Est @ 16%, capped from 29.73% |

Present Value Discounted @ 10.31% | $311.28 | $466.67 | $685.49 | $872.66 | $917.69 |

**Present Value of 5-year Cash Flow (PVCF)**= US$3.3b

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the intial 5-year period we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows beyond the first stage. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of the GDP. In this case I have used the 10-year government bond rate (2.9%). In the same way as with the 5-year ‘growth’ period, we discount this to today’s value at a cost of equity of 10.3%.

**Terminal Value (TV)** = FCF_{2022} × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$1.5b × (1 + 2.9%) ÷ (10.3% – 2.9%) = US$21b

**Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)** = TV / (1 + r)^{5} = US$21b ÷ ( 1 + 10.3%)^{5} = US$13b

The total value is the sum of cash flows for the next five years and the discounted terminal value, which results in the Total Equity Value, which in this case is US$16b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. If the stock is an depositary receipt (represents a specified number of shares in a foreign corporation) then we use the equivalent number. **This results in an intrinsic value of $38.92**. Relative to the current share price of $52.51, the stock is rather overvalued at the time of writing.

### Important assumptions

Now the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate, and of course, the actual cash flows. If you don’t agree with my result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the assumptions. Because we are looking at Square as potential shareholders, the cost of equity is used as the discount rate, rather than the cost of capital (or weighed average cost of capital, WACC) which accounts for debt. In this calculation I’ve used 10.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.044. This is derived from the Bottom-Up Beta method based on 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. What is the reason for the share price to differ from the intrinsic value? For SQ, I’ve put together three pertinent factors you should further examine:

**Financial Health**: Does SQ 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.**Future Earnings**: How does SQ’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 High Quality Alternatives**: Are there other high quality stocks you could be holding instead of SQ? 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 does a DCF calculation for every US stock every 6 hours, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

*To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.*

*The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.*