In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Research Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:RSSS) by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. I will be using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.
Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. 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.
Is Research Solutions fairly valued?
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 start off with, we need to estimate the next ten years of cash flows. 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.
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 ($, Millions)
Growth Rate Estimate Source
Est @ 39.86%
Est @ 28.43%
Est @ 20.42%
Est @ 14.82%
Est @ 10.89%
Est @ 8.15%
Est @ 6.23%
Est @ 4.88%
Est @ 3.94%
Est @ 3.28%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.1%
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$23m
We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. The Gordon Growth formula is used to calculate Terminal Value at a future annual growth rate equal to the 10-year government bond rate of 1.7%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.1%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$4.6m× (1 + 1.7%) ÷ 7.1%– 1.7%) = US$87m
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$87m÷ ( 1 + 7.1%)10= US$44m
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$67m. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$3.0, the company appears around fair value at the time of writing. Valuations are imprecise instruments though, rather like a telescope - move a few degrees and end up in a different galaxy. Do keep this in mind.
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. If you don't agree with these result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the 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 Research Solutions 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 7.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.985. 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, DCF calculation 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 Research Solutions, We've compiled three essential aspects you should look at:
Risks: You should be aware of the 4 warning signs for Research Solutions (1 is potentially serious!) we've uncovered before considering an investment in the company.
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!
Other Top Analyst Picks: Interested to see what the analysts are thinking? Take a look at our interactive list of analysts' top stock picks to find out what they feel might have an attractive future outlook!
PS. Simply Wall St updates its DCF calculation for every US stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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