Are Investors Undervaluing Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (NYSE:WMS) By 24%?

How far off is Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (NYSE:WMS) from its intrinsic value? Using the most recent financial data, we’ll take a look at whether the stock is fairly priced by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today’s value. This is done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

Companies can be valued in a lot of ways, so we would point out that a DCF is not perfect for every situation. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

Check out our latest analysis for Advanced Drainage Systems

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 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, 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$179.5m US$279.6m US$298.7m US$314.5m US$327.8m US$339.2m US$349.3m US$358.3m US$366.7m US$374.6m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 6.82% Est @ 5.29% Est @ 4.23% Est @ 3.48% Est @ 2.96% Est @ 2.59% Est @ 2.34% Est @ 2.16%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.9% US$165 US$236 US$231 US$223 US$214 US$203 US$192 US$181 US$170 US$159

(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$2.0b

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the intial 10-year period, we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all future cash flows beyond 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 8.9%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$375m× (1 + 1.7%) ÷ 8.9%– 1.7%) = US$5.3b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$5.3b÷ ( 1 + 8.9%)10= US$2.3b

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$4.2b. 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$46.7, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 24% 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.

NYSE:WMS Intrinsic value, March 5th 2020
NYSE:WMS Intrinsic value, March 5th 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 Advanced Drainage Systems 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 8.9%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.322. 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, 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. What is the reason for the share price to differ from the intrinsic value? For Advanced Drainage Systems, We’ve compiled three essential aspects you should look at:

  1. Risks: For example, we’ve discovered 1 warning sign for Advanced Drainage Systems that you should be aware of before investing here.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market’s sentiment for WMS’s future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
  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.

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.