Air Canada (TSE:AC) Shares Could Be 22% Below Their Intrinsic Value Estimate

By
Simply Wall St
Published
April 30, 2021
TSX:AC

Does the April share price for Air Canada (TSE:AC) 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. This will be done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Believe it or not, it's not too difficult to follow, as you'll see from our example!

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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

View our latest analysis for Air Canada

Is Air Canada fairly valued?

We use what is known as a 2-stage model, which simply means we have two different periods of growth rates for the company's cash flows. Generally the first stage is higher growth, and the second stage is a lower growth phase. 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.

A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, 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

2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Levered FCF (CA$, Millions) -CA$1.85b CA$905.8m CA$1.90b CA$1.63b CA$1.51b CA$1.44b CA$1.39b CA$1.37b CA$1.36b CA$1.37b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x8 Analyst x8 Analyst x7 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ -4.71% Est @ -2.84% Est @ -1.52% Est @ -0.6% Est @ 0.04%
Present Value (CA$, Millions) Discounted @ 10% -CA$1.7k CA$742 CA$1.4k CA$1.1k CA$916 CA$790 CA$695 CA$619 CA$557 CA$505

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = CA$5.7b

We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. 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 1.5%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 10%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CA$1.4b× (1 + 1.5%) ÷ (10%– 1.5%) = CA$16b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= CA$16b÷ ( 1 + 10%)10= CA$5.7b

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 CA$11b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of CA$24.8, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 22% discount to where the stock price trades currently. 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.

dcf
TSX:AC Discounted Cash Flow April 30th 2021

Important 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. 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 Air Canada 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 10%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.706. 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:

Whilst important, the DCF calculation ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize 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. 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 higher than the current share price? For Air Canada, we've put together three further factors you should assess:

  1. Risks: To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Air Canada (including 1 which is significant) .
  2. Future Earnings: How does AC'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 High Quality Alternatives: Do you like a good all-rounder? Explore our interactive list of high quality stocks to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!

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.

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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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