# An Intrinsic Calculation For Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADP) Suggests It’s 34% Undervalued

Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADP) 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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

View our latest analysis for Automatic Data Processing

### 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 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, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today’s value:

#### 10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 Levered FCF (\$, Millions) US\$2.87b US\$3.27b US\$4.59b US\$5.35b US\$6.00b US\$6.54b US\$6.99b US\$7.36b US\$7.67b US\$7.94b Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x2 Analyst x4 Analyst x1 Est @ 16.56% Est @ 12.12% Est @ 9% Est @ 6.82% Est @ 5.3% Est @ 4.23% Est @ 3.48% Present Value (\$, Millions) Discounted @ 7.2% US\$2.7k US\$2.8k US\$3.7k US\$4.1k US\$4.2k US\$4.3k US\$4.3k US\$4.2k US\$4.1k US\$4.0k

(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US\$38b

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 7.2%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US\$7.9b× (1 + 1.7%) ÷ 7.2%– 1.7%) = US\$148b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US\$148b÷ ( 1 + 7.2%)10= US\$74b

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\$112b. 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\$171, the company appears quite undervalued at a 34% 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.

### Important 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. 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 Automatic Data Processing 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 7.2%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.003. 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 Automatic Data Processing, I’ve compiled three further aspects you should further examine:

1. Financial Health: Does ADP 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 ADP’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 ADP? 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.

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