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Is There An Opportunity With Groupon, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:GRPN) 26% Undervaluation?

Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Groupon, Inc. (NASDAQ:GRPN) as an investment opportunity 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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

Is Groupon fairly valued?

We use what is known as a 2-stage model, which simply means we have two different periods of growth rates for the company's cash flows. Generally the first stage is higher growth, and the second stage is a lower growth phase. 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, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 Levered FCF (\$, Millions) \$212.5m \$234.0m \$259.2m \$269.9m \$279.8m \$289.2m \$298.4m \$307.5m \$316.6m \$325.7m Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x4 Analyst x2 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 3.65% Est @ 3.37% Est @ 3.18% Est @ 3.05% Est @ 2.95% Est @ 2.88% Present Value (\$, Millions) Discounted @ 12.24% \$189.3 \$185.8 \$183.3 \$170.1 \$157.1 \$144.7 \$133.0 \$122.1 \$112.0 \$102.7

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= \$1.5b

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the intial 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 10-year government bond rate of 2.7%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 12.2%.

Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2029 Ã— (1 + g) Ã· (r â€“ g) = US\$326m Ã— (1 + 2.7%) Ã· (12.2% â€“ 2.7%) = US\$3.5b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)10 = \$US\$3.5b Ã· ( 1 + 12.2%)10 = \$1.11b

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 \$2.61b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. This results in an intrinsic value estimate of \$4.59. Compared to the current share price of \$3.4, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 26% 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.

The assumptions

Now 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 Groupon 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 12.2%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.595. 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.

Next Steps:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it shouldnâ€™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. What is the reason for the share price to differ from the intrinsic value? For Groupon, There are three pertinent factors you should look at:

1. Financial Health: Does GRPN 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.
2. Future Earnings: How does GRPN'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 High Quality Alternatives: Are there other high quality stocks you could be holding instead of GRPN? Explore our interactive list of high quality stocks to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!

PS. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the NASDAQ every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.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. Thank you for reading.