Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Constellation Software Inc. (TSE:CSU) as an investment opportunity by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today's value. This will be done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.
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.
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. 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 discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today's dollars:
10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$1.09b||US$1.22b||US$1.28b||US$1.34b||US$1.38b||US$1.42b||US$1.45b||US$1.49b||US$1.52b||US$1.55b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x5||Analyst x3||Est @ 5.03%||Est @ 4.02%||Est @ 3.31%||Est @ 2.82%||Est @ 2.47%||Est @ 2.23%||Est @ 2.06%||Est @ 1.94%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.5%||US$1.0k||US$1.1k||US$1.0k||US$999||US$960||US$918||US$874||US$831||US$789||US$748|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$9.2b
The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after 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 1.7%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.5%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$1.5b× (1 + 1.7%) ÷ (7.5%– 1.7%) = US$27b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$27b÷ ( 1 + 7.5%)10= US$13b
The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is US$22b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of CA$1.6k, the company appears slightly overvalued at the time of writing. 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.
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 Constellation Software 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 7.5%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.977. 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.
Whilst important, the DCF calculation is only one of many factors that you need to assess for a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. 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. Why is the intrinsic value lower than the current share price? For Constellation Software, we've put together three essential items you should consider:
- Risks: We feel that you should assess the 1 warning sign for Constellation Software we've flagged before making an investment in the company.
- Future Earnings: How does CSU'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.
- 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 Canadian stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock 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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