Calculating The Fair Value Of ASGN Incorporated (NYSE:ASGN)

How far off is ASGN Incorporated (NYSE:ASGN) 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. 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. If you want to learn more about discounted cash flow, the rationale behind this calculation can be read in detail in the Simply Wall St analysis model.

View our latest analysis for ASGN

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, 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

2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$262.5m US$259.4m US$259.0m US$260.4m US$263.2m US$266.9m US$271.3m US$276.2m US$281.6m US$287.3m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x2 Est @ -1.18% Est @ -0.16% Est @ 0.56% Est @ 1.06% Est @ 1.4% Est @ 1.65% Est @ 1.82% Est @ 1.94% Est @ 2.02%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.5% US$242 US$220 US$203 US$188 US$175 US$164 US$154 US$144 US$135 US$127

(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$1.8b

The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business’s cash flow after 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 8.5%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$287m× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (8.5%– 2.2%) = US$4.7b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$4.7b÷ ( 1 + 8.5%)10= US$2.1b

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$3.8b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$71.8, the company appears about fair value at a 1.8% 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
NYSE:ASGN Discounted Cash Flow September 1st 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 ASGN 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 8.5%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.040. 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. It’s not possible to obtain a foolproof valuation with a DCF model. Instead the best use for a DCF model is to test certain assumptions and theories to see if they would lead to the company being undervalued or 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. For ASGN, there are three relevant factors you should look at:

  1. Risks: Case in point, we’ve spotted 2 warning signs for ASGN you should be aware of.
  2. Future Earnings: How does ASGN’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 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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