Are Investors Undervaluing Barrett Business Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:BBSI) By 47%?

How far off is Barrett Business Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:BBSI) 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. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

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.

View our latest analysis for Barrett Business Services

What’s the estimated valuation?

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. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next ten years. 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, so we discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today’s dollars:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$55.4m US$50.2m US$47.2m US$45.6m US$44.7m US$44.5m US$44.6m US$45.0m US$45.6m US$46.3m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x1 Est @ -9.43% Est @ -5.93% Est @ -3.49% Est @ -1.78% Est @ -0.58% Est @ 0.26% Est @ 0.85% Est @ 1.26% Est @ 1.55%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.8% US$51.4 US$43.2 US$37.7 US$33.8 US$30.8 US$28.4 US$26.4 US$24.7 US$23.2 US$21.9

(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$321m

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the initial 10-year period, we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all future cash flows beyond the first stage. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of a country’s GDP growth. In this case we have used the 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield (2.2%) to estimate future growth. In the same way as with the 10-year ‘growth’ period, we discount future cash flows to today’s value, using a cost of equity of 7.8%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$46m× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (7.8%– 2.2%) = US$854m

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$854m÷ ( 1 + 7.8%)10= US$404m

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$725m. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$50.4, the company appears quite good value at a 47% 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.

dcf
NasdaqGS:BBSI Discounted Cash Flow September 22nd 2020

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 Barrett Business Services 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 7.8%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.922. 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. 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. Can we work out why the company is trading at a discount to intrinsic value? For Barrett Business Services, we’ve compiled three fundamental elements you should further research:

  1. Risks: For instance, we’ve identified 2 warning signs for Barrett Business Services (1 shouldn’t be ignored) you should be aware of.
  2. Future Earnings: How does BBSI’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 NASDAQGS 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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