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Is There An Opportunity With Cenovus Energy Inc.'s (TSE:CVE) 41% Undervaluation?

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Simply Wall St
·6 min read
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Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSE:CVE) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today's value. We will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model on this occasion. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

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 Cenovus Energy

Step by step through the calculation

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. 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.

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

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

2030

Levered FCF (CA$, Millions)

CA$1.77b

CA$2.92b

CA$1.91b

CA$2.01b

CA$2.62b

CA$2.57b

CA$2.55b

CA$2.55b

CA$2.56b

CA$2.57b

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x6

Analyst x8

Analyst x1

Analyst x1

Analyst x1

Est @ -1.89%

Est @ -0.86%

Est @ -0.14%

Est @ 0.36%

Est @ 0.72%

Present Value (CA$, Millions) Discounted @ 9.4%

CA$1.6k

CA$2.4k

CA$1.5k

CA$1.4k

CA$1.7k

CA$1.5k

CA$1.4k

CA$1.2k

CA$1.1k

CA$1.0k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = CA$15b

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 9.4%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CA$2.6b× (1 + 1.5%) ÷ (9.4%– 1.5%) = CA$33b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= CA$33b÷ ( 1 + 9.4%)10= CA$14b

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$28b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of CA$8.3, the company appears quite good value at a 41% 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.

dcf
dcf

The assumptions

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 Cenovus Energy 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 9.4%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.504. 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 is only one of many factors that you need to assess 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 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 Cenovus Energy, we've compiled three further aspects you should further research:

  1. Risks: For example, we've discovered 3 warning signs for Cenovus Energy (2 are potentially serious!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for CVE's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.

  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 TSX 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.