# Calculating The Fair Value Of Ricardo plc (LON:RCDO)

Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Ricardo plc (LON:RCDO) by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back 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.

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.

See our latest analysis for Ricardo

### The model

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.

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) UK£11.4m UK£14.2m UK£16.2m UK£17.9m UK£19.3m UK£20.4m UK£21.3m UK£22.0m UK£22.7m UK£23.2m Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x4 Analyst x4 Est @ 14.4% Est @ 10.45% Est @ 7.68% Est @ 5.74% Est @ 4.38% Est @ 3.44% Est @ 2.77% Est @ 2.31% Present Value (£, Millions) Discounted @ 10% UK£10.4 UK£11.7 UK£12.2 UK£12.2 UK£12.0 UK£11.5 UK£10.9 UK£10.3 UK£9.6 UK£8.9

(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = UK£109m

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 1.2%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today’s value at a cost of equity of 10%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = UK£23m× (1 + 1.2%) ÷ (10%– 1.2%) = UK£266m

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= UK£266m÷ ( 1 + 10%)10= UK£102m

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is UK£211m. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of UK£3.3, the company appears about fair value at a 16% 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.

### 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. You don’t have to agree with these inputs, I recommend redoing the calculations yourself and playing with them. 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 Ricardo 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 10%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.274. 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:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it is only one of many factors that you need to assess for 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. For example, changes in the company’s cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. For Ricardo, we’ve put together three fundamental items you should look at:

1. Risks: As an example, we’ve found 3 warning signs for Ricardo that you need to consider before investing here.
2. Future Earnings: How does RCDO’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 LSE 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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