U.S. markets closed
  • S&P 500

    3,901.36
    +0.57 (+0.01%)
     
  • Dow 30

    31,261.90
    +8.77 (+0.03%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    11,354.62
    -33.88 (-0.30%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    1,773.27
    -2.96 (-0.17%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    110.35
    +0.46 (+0.42%)
     
  • Gold

    1,845.10
    +3.90 (+0.21%)
     
  • Silver

    21.76
    -0.14 (-0.65%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.0562
    -0.0026 (-0.24%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    2.7870
    -0.0680 (-2.38%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.2496
    +0.0021 (+0.17%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    127.8500
    +0.0560 (+0.04%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    29,315.10
    -1,093.62 (-3.60%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    650.34
    -23.03 (-3.42%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,389.98
    +87.24 (+1.19%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    26,739.03
    +336.19 (+1.27%)
     

Is Unitil Corporation (NYSE:UTL) Expensive For A Reason? A Look At Its Intrinsic Value

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

How far off is Unitil Corporation (NYSE:UTL) from its intrinsic value? Using the most recent financial data, we'll take a look at whether the stock is fairly priced by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. We will take advantage of the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model for this purpose. Believe it or not, it's not too difficult to follow, as you'll see from our example!

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.

Check out our latest analysis for Unitil

The model

As Unitil operates in the integrated utilities sector, we need to calculate the intrinsic value slightly differently. In this approach dividends per share (DPS) are used, as free cash flow is difficult to estimate and often not reported by analysts. Unless a company pays out the majority of its FCF as a dividend, this method will typically underestimate the value of the stock. We use the Gordon Growth Model, which assumes dividend will grow into perpetuity at a rate that can be sustained. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of a company's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In this case we used the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield (2.2%). The expected dividend per share is then discounted to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.0%. Compared to the current share price of US$40.1, the company appears slightly overvalued at the time of writing. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.

Value Per Share = Expected Dividend Per Share / (Discount Rate - Perpetual Growth Rate)

= US$1.5 / (7.0% – 2.2%)

= US$31.7

dcf
dcf

Important assumptions

Now the most important inputs to a discounted cash flow are the discount rate, and of course, the actual cash flows. If you don't agree with these result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the 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 Unitil 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 7.0%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.800. 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.

Looking Ahead:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. For example, changes in the company's cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. What is the reason for the share price exceeding the intrinsic value? For Unitil, we've compiled three important aspects you should assess:

  1. Risks: Case in point, we've spotted 1 warning sign for Unitil you should be aware of.

  2. Future Earnings: How does UTL'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. 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.

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.

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