Is Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (TSE:CP) Expensive For A Reason? A Look At Its Intrinsic Value

By
Simply Wall St
Published
August 18, 2021
TSX:CP
Source: Shutterstock

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (TSE:CP) by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model is the tool we will apply to do this. 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. 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 Canadian Pacific Railway

The method

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 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.

A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Levered FCF (CA$, Millions) CA$2.28b CA$2.50b CA$2.94b CA$2.80b CA$2.72b CA$2.69b CA$2.67b CA$2.67b CA$2.69b CA$2.71b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x9 Analyst x5 Analyst x3 Analyst x2 Est @ -2.69% Est @ -1.42% Est @ -0.54% Est @ 0.08% Est @ 0.52% Est @ 0.82%
Present Value (CA$, Millions) Discounted @ 6.6% CA$2.1k CA$2.2k CA$2.4k CA$2.2k CA$2.0k CA$1.8k CA$1.7k CA$1.6k CA$1.5k CA$1.4k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = CA$19b

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 1.5%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 6.6%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CA$2.7b× (1 + 1.5%) ÷ (6.6%– 1.5%) = CA$54b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= CA$54b÷ ( 1 + 6.6%)10= CA$29b

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$48b. 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$89.8, the company appears slightly overvalued at the time of writing. 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:CP Discounted Cash Flow August 19th 2021

Important assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the cash flows. If you don't agree with these result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the 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 Pacific Railway 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 6.6%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.075. 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.

Moving On:

Whilst important, the DCF calculation 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. Can we work out why the company is trading at a premium to intrinsic value? For Canadian Pacific Railway, we've compiled three relevant elements you should further examine:

  1. Risks: For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Canadian Pacific Railway (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable) you should be aware of.
  2. Future Earnings: How does CP'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.

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