Stock Analysis

Calculating The Intrinsic Value Of ALS Limited (ASX:ALQ)

ASX:ALQ
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Key Insights

  • The projected fair value for ALS is AU$12.60 based on 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity
  • With AU$11.12 share price, ALS appears to be trading close to its estimated fair value
  • Our fair value estimate is 1.1% lower than ALS' analyst price target of AU$12.46

Does the March share price for ALS Limited (ASX:ALQ) reflect what it's really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock's intrinsic value by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present 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.

We generally believe that a company's value is the present value of all of the cash it will generate in the future. However, a DCF is just one valuation metric among many, and it is not without flaws. For those who are keen learners of equity analysis, the Simply Wall St analysis model here may be something of interest to you.

Check out our latest analysis for ALS

Step By Step Through The Calculation

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 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.

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) forecast

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032
Levered FCF (A$, Millions) AU$299.5m AU$332.5m AU$339.4m AU$336.9m AU$357.7m AU$365.1m AU$372.6m AU$380.0m AU$387.6m AU$395.2m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x3 Analyst x3 Analyst x3 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 2.08% Est @ 2.03% Est @ 2.00% Est @ 1.98% Est @ 1.97%
Present Value (A$, Millions) Discounted @ 7.3% AU$279 AU$289 AU$274 AU$254 AU$251 AU$239 AU$227 AU$216 AU$205 AU$195

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = AU$2.4b

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 (1.9%) 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 7.3%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = AU$395m× (1 + 1.9%) ÷ (7.3%– 1.9%) = AU$7.5b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= AU$7.5b÷ ( 1 + 7.3%)10= AU$3.7b

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 AU$6.1b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of AU$11.1, the company appears about fair value at a 12% 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.

dcf
ASX:ALQ Discounted Cash Flow March 17th 2023

Important Assumptions

Now 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 ALS 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 7.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.910. 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.

SWOT Analysis for ALS

Strength
  • Earnings growth over the past year exceeded the industry.
  • Debt is well covered by earnings and cashflows.
  • Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.
Weakness
  • Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Professional Services market.
Opportunity
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow for the next 3 years.
  • Good value based on P/E ratio and estimated fair value.
Threat
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the Australian market.

Looking Ahead:

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. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. 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 ALS, we've compiled three additional factors you should explore:

  1. Risks: We feel that you should assess the 2 warning signs for ALS we've flagged before making an investment in the company.
  2. Future Earnings: How does ALQ'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. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the ASX every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether ALS is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.