Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU) by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model is the tool we will apply to do this. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.
Companies can be valued in a lot of ways, so we would point out that a DCF is not perfect for every situation. For those who are keen learners of equity analysis, the Simply Wall St analysis model here may be something of interest to you.
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. 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, so we discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today's dollars:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$847.5m||US$918.9m||US$1.02b||US$1.09b||US$1.15b||US$1.21b||US$1.26b||US$1.30b||US$1.34b||US$1.38b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x6||Analyst x5||Analyst x1||Est @ 7.26%||Est @ 5.75%||Est @ 4.69%||Est @ 3.95%||Est @ 3.43%||Est @ 3.07%||Est @ 2.81%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 9.6%||US$773||US$765||US$774||US$757||US$731||US$698||US$662||US$625||US$588||US$552|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$6.9b
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 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield of 2.2%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 9.6%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$1.4b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (9.6%– 2.2%) = US$19b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$19b÷ ( 1 + 9.6%)10= US$7.7b
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$15b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$21.1, 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.
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 Western Union 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 9.6%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.225. 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.
Although the valuation of a company is important, it ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Instead the best use for a DCF model is to test certain assumptions and theories to see if they would lead to the company being undervalued or overvalued. For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. What is the reason for the share price sitting below the intrinsic value? For Western Union, we've put together three fundamental elements you should consider:
- Risks: To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Western Union .
- Future Earnings: How does WU'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.
- 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. 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.
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.
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