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A Look At The Intrinsic Value Of National Grid plc (LON:NG.)

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·4 min read
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In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of National Grid plc (LON:NG.) by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today's 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 still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

Check out our latest analysis for National Grid

The calculation

As National Grid operates in the integrated utilities sector, we need to calculate the intrinsic value slightly differently. Instead of using free cash flows, which are hard to estimate and often not reported by analysts in this industry, dividends per share (DPS) payments are used. Unless a company pays out the majority of its FCF as a dividend, this method will typically underestimate the value of the stock. The 'Gordon Growth Model' is used, which simply assumes that dividend payments will continue to increase at a sustainable growth rate forever. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of a company's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In this case we used the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield (1.0%). The expected dividend per share is then discounted to today's value at a cost of equity of 5.8%. Compared to the current share price of UK£9.0, the company appears about fair value at a 16% discount to where the stock price trades currently. The assumptions in any calculation have a big impact on the valuation, so it is better to view this as a rough estimate, not precise down to the last cent.

Value Per Share = Expected Dividend Per Share / (Discount Rate - Perpetual Growth Rate)

= UK£0.5 / (5.8% – 1.0%)

= UK£10.8

dcf
dcf

The assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the 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 National Grid 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 5.8%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.800. 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.

Moving On:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. For National Grid, we've compiled three essential aspects you should further research:

  1. Risks: Take risks, for example - National Grid has 2 warning signs (and 1 which is significant) we think you should know about.

  2. Future Earnings: How does NG.'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. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the LSE every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.