An Intrinsic Calculation For Acceleron Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ:XLRN) Suggests It’s 39% Undervalued

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Acceleron Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ:XLRN) by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today’s value. One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. There’s really not all that much to it, even though it might appear quite complex.

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.

View our latest analysis for Acceleron Pharma

Step by step through the calculation

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 begin with, we have to get estimates of 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 need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Levered FCF ($, Millions) -US$113.7m -US$39.9m US$2.90m US$166.5m US$295.0m US$456.5m US$634.5m US$811.9m US$976.2m US$1.12b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x4 Analyst x4 Analyst x2 Analyst x2 Est @ 77.25% Est @ 54.74% Est @ 38.99% Est @ 27.96% Est @ 20.24% Est @ 14.83%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.3% -US$105 -US$34.0 US$2.3 US$121 US$198 US$283 US$363 US$428 US$475 US$504

(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$2.2b

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 8.3%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$1.1b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (8.3%– 2.2%) = US$19b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$19b÷ ( 1 + 8.3%)10= US$8.4b

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$11b. 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$109, the company appears quite undervalued at a 39% 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
NasdaqGM:XLRN Discounted Cash Flow September 23rd 2020

The assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the 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 Acceleron Pharma 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 8.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.016. 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:

Whilst important, the DCF calculation 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. Can we work out why the company is trading at a discount to intrinsic value? For Acceleron Pharma, we’ve compiled three additional items you should look at:

  1. Risks: As an example, we’ve found 2 warning signs for Acceleron Pharma that you need to consider before investing here.
  2. Future Earnings: How does XLRN’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: Do you like a good all-rounder? Explore our interactive list of high quality stocks to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!

PS. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the NASDAQGM every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks 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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