Canadian Natural Resources Limited's (TSE:CNQ) Intrinsic Value Is Potentially 54% Above Its Share Price

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 14, 2021
TSX:CNQ
Source: Shutterstock

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSE:CNQ) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. This will be done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. There's really not all that much to it, even though it might appear quite complex.

We would caution that there are many ways of valuing a company and, like the DCF, each technique has advantages and disadvantages in certain scenarios. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Canadian Natural Resources

Crunching the numbers

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. In the first stage we need to estimate the cash flows to the business over the next ten years. 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) estimate

2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Levered FCF (CA$, Millions) CA$8.96b CA$8.48b CA$6.99b CA$7.06b CA$6.64b CA$6.40b CA$6.26b CA$6.20b CA$6.18b CA$6.20b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x9 Analyst x7 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ -5.94% Est @ -3.69% Est @ -2.12% Est @ -1.02% Est @ -0.25% Est @ 0.29%
Present Value (CA$, Millions) Discounted @ 7.9% CA$8.3k CA$7.3k CA$5.6k CA$5.2k CA$4.5k CA$4.1k CA$3.7k CA$3.4k CA$3.1k CA$2.9k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = CA$48b

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the initial 10-year period, we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all future cash flows beyond the first stage. 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 1.6%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.9%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CA$6.2b× (1 + 1.6%) ÷ (7.9%– 1.6%) = CA$99b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= CA$99b÷ ( 1 + 7.9%)10= CA$46b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is CA$94b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of CA$52.0, the company appears quite undervalued at a 35% 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:CNQ Discounted Cash Flow November 14th 2021

The assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the 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 Canadian Natural Resources 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 7.9%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.451. 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.

Looking Ahead:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it shouldn't be the only metric you look at when researching a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. 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. Can we work out why the company is trading at a discount to intrinsic value? For Canadian Natural Resources, we've compiled three relevant aspects you should look at:

  1. Risks: You should be aware of the 3 warning signs for Canadian Natural Resources (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) we've uncovered before considering an investment in the company.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for CNQ'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. 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.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.