Stock Analysis

Are Investors Undervaluing Loblaw Companies Limited (TSE:L) By 46%?

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TSX:L
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In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Loblaw Companies Limited (TSE:L) by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Models like these may appear beyond the comprehension of a lay person, but they're fairly easy to follow.

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. 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 Loblaw Companies

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.

Generally we assume that a dollar today is more valuable than a dollar in the future, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032
Levered FCF (CA$, Millions) CA$2.18b CA$2.90b CA$2.79b CA$2.73b CA$2.70b CA$2.70b CA$2.70b CA$2.72b CA$2.75b CA$2.78b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x4 Analyst x1 Est @ -3.81% Est @ -2.18% Est @ -1.04% Est @ -0.24% Est @ 0.32% Est @ 0.72% Est @ 0.99% Est @ 1.18%
Present Value (CA$, Millions) Discounted @ 5.0% CA$2.1k CA$2.6k CA$2.4k CA$2.2k CA$2.1k CA$2.0k CA$1.9k CA$1.8k CA$1.8k CA$1.7k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = CA$21b

We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. 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 (1.6%) 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 5.0%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CA$2.8b× (1 + 1.6%) ÷ (5.0%– 1.6%) = CA$83b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= CA$83b÷ ( 1 + 5.0%)10= CA$51b

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 CA$72b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of CA$118, the company appears quite undervalued at a 46% 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
TSX:L Discounted Cash Flow July 19th 2022

Important assumptions

Now 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 Loblaw Companies 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 5.0%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.802. 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 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 instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. What is the reason for the share price sitting below the intrinsic value? For Loblaw Companies, we've compiled three essential factors you should further research:

  1. Risks: For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Loblaw Companies (1 can't be ignored!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
  2. Future Earnings: How does L'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 TSX 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 Loblaw Companies 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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About TSX:L

Loblaw Companies

Loblaw Companies Limited, a food and pharmacy company, engages in the grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, financial services, and wireless mobile products and services businesses in Canada.

Solid track record with adequate balance sheet and pays a dividend.