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Paychex, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:PAYX) Intrinsic Value Is Potentially 34% Above Its Share Price

Key Insights

  • Paychex's estimated fair value is US$155 based on 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity

  • Paychex is estimated to be 25% undervalued based on current share price of US$116

  • Our fair value estimate is 28% higher than Paychex's analyst price target of US$121

Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ:PAYX) by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Models like these may appear beyond the comprehension of a lay person, but they're fairly easy to follow.

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 still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

See our latest analysis for Paychex

The Method

We're using the 2-stage growth model, which simply means we take in account two stages of company's growth. In the initial period the company may have a higher growth rate and the second stage is usually assumed to have a stable growth rate. 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.

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) forecast

2024

2025

2026

2027

2028

2029

2030

2031

2032

2033

Levered FCF ($, Millions)

US$2.05b

US$2.05b

US$2.26b

US$2.46b

US$2.62b

US$2.74b

US$2.85b

US$2.94b

US$3.03b

US$3.11b

Growth Rate Estimate Source

Analyst x2

Analyst x3

Analyst x1

Analyst x1

Analyst x1

Est @ 4.62%

Est @ 3.88%

Est @ 3.36%

Est @ 3.00%

Est @ 2.74%

Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 6.6%

US$1.9k

US$1.8k

US$1.9k

US$1.9k

US$1.9k

US$1.9k

US$1.8k

US$1.8k

US$1.7k

US$1.6k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$18b

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 6.6%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2033 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$3.1b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (6.6%– 2.2%) = US$71b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$71b÷ ( 1 + 6.6%)10= US$38b

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$56b. 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$116, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 25% discount to where the stock price trades currently. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.

dcf
dcf

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 Paychex 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 6.6%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.890. 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.

SWOT Analysis for Paychex

Strength

  • Earnings growth over the past year exceeded the industry.

  • Debt is not viewed as a risk.

  • Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.

Weakness

  • Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Professional Services market.

Opportunity

  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow for the next 3 years.

  • Good value based on P/E ratio and estimated fair value.

Threat

  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the American market.

Next Steps:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it shouldn't be the only metric you look at when researching a company. It's not possible to obtain a foolproof valuation with a DCF model. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. 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. Why is the intrinsic value higher than the current share price? For Paychex, we've put together three fundamental elements you should look at:

  1. Risks: Be aware that Paychex is showing 1 warning sign in our investment analysis , you should know about...

  2. Future Earnings: How does PAYX'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 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 American stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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