Does the September share price for Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALXN) reflect what it’s really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock’s intrinsic value by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today’s value. We will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model on this occasion. There’s really not all that much to it, even though it might appear quite complex.
Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company’s value, and a DCF is just one method. For those who are keen learners of equity analysis, the Simply Wall St analysis model here may be something of interest to you.
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.
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
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$2.57b||US$2.98b||US$3.08b||US$3.13b||US$3.18b||US$3.23b||US$3.29b||US$3.36b||US$3.43b||US$3.50b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x6||Analyst x6||Analyst x4||Analyst x4||Est @ 1.62%||Est @ 1.8%||Est @ 1.93%||Est @ 2.01%||Est @ 2.08%||Est @ 2.12%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.7%||US$2.4k||US$2.5k||US$2.4k||US$2.2k||US$2.1k||US$2.0k||US$1.8k||US$1.7k||US$1.6k||US$1.5k|
(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$20b
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 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 8.7%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$3.5b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (8.7%– 2.2%) = US$56b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$56b÷ ( 1 + 8.7%)10= US$24b
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$44b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$112, the company appears quite undervalued at a 45% 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 Alexion Pharmaceuticals 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 8.7%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.073. 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 is only one of many factors that you need to assess for a company. It’s not possible to obtain a foolproof valuation with a DCF model. Rather it should be seen as a guide to “what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/overvalued?” For example, changes in the company’s cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. Why is the intrinsic value higher than the current share price? For Alexion Pharmaceuticals, there are three essential factors you should explore:
- Risks: Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We’ve identified 2 warning signs with Alexion Pharmaceuticals , and understanding these should be part of your investment process.
- Future Earnings: How does ALXN’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 American stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.
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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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