Estimating The Fair Value Of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE:GHC)

How far off is Graham Holdings Company (NYSE:GHC) from its intrinsic value? Using the most recent financial data, we’ll take a look at whether the stock is fairly priced by taking the foreast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today’s 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.

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 Graham Holdings

Is Graham Holdings fairly valued?

We are going to use a two-stage DCF model, which, as the name states, takes into account two stages of growth. The first stage is generally a higher growth period which levels off heading towards the terminal value, captured in the second ‘steady growth’ period. To start off with, we need to estimate the next ten years of cash flows. Seeing as no analyst estimates of free cash flow are available to us, we have extrapolate the previous free cash flow (FCF) from the company’s last 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 need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$110.2m US$103.0m US$98.9m US$96.6m US$95.5m US$95.3m US$95.7m US$96.4m US$97.4m US$98.6m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Est @ -10.05% Est @ -6.52% Est @ -4.04% Est @ -2.31% Est @ -1.09% Est @ -0.24% Est @ 0.35% Est @ 0.77% Est @ 1.06% Est @ 1.26%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.2% US$103 US$89.7 US$80.3 US$73.2 US$67.5 US$62.8 US$58.8 US$55.3 US$52.1 US$49.3

(“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$691m

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 10-year government bond rate (1.7%) 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 7.2%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$99m× (1 + 1.7%) ÷ 7.2%– 1.7%) = US$1.8b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$1.8b÷ ( 1 + 7.2%)10= US$920m

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$1.6b. 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$343, the company appears around fair value at the time of writing. Valuations are imprecise instruments though, rather like a telescope – move a few degrees and end up in a different galaxy. Do keep this in mind.

NYSE:GHC Intrinsic value May 12th 2020
NYSE:GHC Intrinsic value May 12th 2020

The 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 Graham Holdings 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 1.002. 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. For Graham Holdings, We’ve compiled three important factors you should further research:

  1. Risks: For instance, we’ve identified 2 warning signs for Graham Holdings that you should be aware of.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market’s sentiment for GHC’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. 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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