Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of E.ON SE (ETR:EOAN) as an investment opportunity by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. I will be using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!
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.
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, 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) forecast
|Levered FCF (€, Millions)||€725.4m||€1.48b||€1.43b||€1.27b||€1.51b||€1.50b||€1.50b||€1.50b||€1.50b||€1.50b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x7||Analyst x11||Analyst x9||Analyst x3||Analyst x1||Est @ -0.35%||Est @ -0.18%||Est @ -0.06%||Est @ 0.02%||Est @ 0.08%|
|Present Value (€, Millions) Discounted @ 5.0%||€691||€1.3k||€1.2k||€1.0k||€1.2k||€1.1k||€1.1k||€1.0k||€964||€918|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = €11b
The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business's cash flow after the first stage. 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 10-year government bond rate (0.2%) 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)= FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = €1.5b× (1 + 0.2%) ÷ 5.0%– 0.2%) = €31b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= €31b÷ ( 1 + 5.0%)10= €19b
The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is €30b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of €9.5, the company appears about fair value at a 17% discount to where the stock price trades currently. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.
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 E.ON 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 0.800. 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.
Although the valuation of a company is important, it shouldn’t be the only metric you look at when researching a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. 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. For E.ON, There are three additional aspects you should further research:
- Risks: For instance, we've identified 5 warning signs for E.ON (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable) you should be aware of.
- Future Earnings: How does EOAN'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 DE 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. Thank you for reading.
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