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Is QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM) Worth US$75.9 Based On Its Intrinsic Value?

Simply Wall St

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM) by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. I will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.

We generally believe that a company's value is the present value of all of the cash it will generate in the future. However, a DCF is just one valuation metric among many, and it is not without flaws. 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 QUALCOMM

The calculation

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) estimate

2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$4.21b US$6.60b US$5.71b US$5.64b US$5.62b US$5.63b US$5.67b US$5.73b US$5.80b US$5.88b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x7 Analyst x7 Analyst x3 Est @ -1.26% Est @ -0.36% Est @ 0.27% Est @ 0.71% Est @ 1.02% Est @ 1.24% Est @ 1.39%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 9.1% US$3.9k US$5.6k US$4.4k US$4.0k US$3.6k US$3.3k US$3.1k US$2.9k US$2.7k US$2.5k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$36b

The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after 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 1.7%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 9.1%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$5.9b× (1 + 1.7%) ÷ 9.1%– 1.7%) = US$82b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$82b÷ ( 1 + 9.1%)10= US$34b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is US$70b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$75.9, the company appears slightly overvalued at the time of writing. Valuations are imprecise instruments though, rather like a telescope - move a few degrees and end up in a different galaxy. Do keep this in mind.

NasdaqGS:QCOM Intrinsic value, February 28th 2020

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. 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 QUALCOMM 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 9.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.345. 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:

Although the valuation of a company is important, 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 QUALCOMM, I've put together three pertinent aspects you should further research:

  1. Financial Health: Does QCOM 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 QCOM'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 QCOM? Explore our interactive list of high quality stocks to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!

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.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.