How far off is Ashtead Group plc (LON:AHT) from its intrinsic value? Using the most recent financial data, we'll take a look at whether the stock is fairly priced 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. 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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.
Crunching the numbers
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. 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.
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
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$1.18b||US$1.17b||US$1.22b||US$1.76b||US$2.17b||US$2.47b||US$2.71b||US$2.91b||US$3.06b||US$3.18b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x11||Analyst x11||Analyst x10||Analyst x3||Analyst x2||Est @ 13.69%||Est @ 9.85%||Est @ 7.16%||Est @ 5.27%||Est @ 3.96%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 6.7%||US$1.1k||US$1.0k||US$1.0k||US$1.4k||US$1.6k||US$1.7k||US$1.7k||US$1.7k||US$1.7k||US$1.7k|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$15b
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 0.9%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 6.7%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$3.2b× (1 + 0.9%) ÷ (6.7%– 0.9%) = US$55b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$55b÷ ( 1 + 6.7%)10= US$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 US$43b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of UK£48.3, the company appears quite good value at a 34% 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.
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. 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 Ashtead Group 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 6.7%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.210. 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.
Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and 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?" For example, changes in the company's cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. What is the reason for the share price sitting below the intrinsic value? For Ashtead Group, there are three relevant aspects you should assess:
- Risks: As an example, we've found 2 warning signs for Ashtead Group that you need to consider before investing here.
- Future Earnings: How does AHT'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 British stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.
Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.
Find out whether Ashtead Group is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.View the Free Analysis
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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.
Ashtead Group plc, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the construction, industrial, and general equipment rental business in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Solid track record with adequate balance sheet and pays a dividend.