U.S. Markets closed

Is There An Opportunity With Wabash National Corporation's (NYSE:WNC) 34% Undervaluation?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Wabash National Corporation (NYSE:WNC) 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. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Wabash National

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. 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 are 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

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$106 US$111 US$112 US$113 US$115 US$117 US$120 US$123 US$126 US$129
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x3 Analyst x2 Est @ 0.59% Est @ 1.23% Est @ 1.68% Est @ 1.99% Est @ 2.22% Est @ 2.37% Est @ 2.48% Est @ 2.55%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 11.06% US$95.1 US$90.0 US$81.5 US$74.3 US$68.0 US$62.5 US$57.5 US$53.0 US$48.9 US$45.2

Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= $676.00m

"Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St

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 2.7%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 11.1%.

Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$129m × (1 + 2.7%) ÷ (11.1% – 2.7%) = US$1.6b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)10 = $US$1.6b ÷ ( 1 + 11.1%)10 = $557.30m

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is $1.23b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. This results in an intrinsic value estimate of $22.25. Relative to the current share price of $14.68, the company appears quite undervalued at a 34% discount to what it is available for right now. The assumptions in a DCF 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.

NYSE:WNC Intrinsic value, April 16th 2019

The assumptions

Now the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate, and of course, the actual 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 Wabash National 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 11.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.397. 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 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. What is the reason for the share price to differ from the intrinsic value? For Wabash National, I've put together three relevant aspects you should look at:

  1. Financial Health: Does WNC 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 WNC'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 WNC? 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 NYSE 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.