Stock Analysis

Ashtead Group plc (LON:AHT) Shares Could Be 33% Above Their Intrinsic Value Estimate

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LSE:AHT
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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 expected future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model is the tool we will apply to do this. It may sound complicated, but actually it is quite simple!

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. If you still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

View our latest analysis for Ashtead Group

Is Ashtead Group 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.

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) estimate

2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Levered FCF (£, Millions) UK£1.38b UK£932.1m UK£718.8m UK£686.2m UK£667.0m UK£656.3m UK£651.4m UK£650.3m UK£652.0m UK£655.5m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x8 Analyst x10 Analyst x5 Est @ -4.53% Est @ -2.81% Est @ -1.6% Est @ -0.75% Est @ -0.16% Est @ 0.25% Est @ 0.54%
Present Value (£, Millions) Discounted @ 9.6% UK£1.3k UK£775 UK£545 UK£475 UK£421 UK£378 UK£342 UK£312 UK£285 UK£261

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = UK£5.1b

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 1.2%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 9.6%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = UK£656m× (1 + 1.2%) ÷ (9.6%– 1.2%) = UK£7.9b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= UK£7.9b÷ ( 1 + 9.6%)10= UK£3.1b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is UK£8.2b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of UK£24.4, the company appears potentially overvalued at the time of writing. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.

dcf
LSE:AHT Discounted Cash Flow August 1st 2020

The 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. 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 9.6%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.216. 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. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. What is the reason for the share price exceeding the intrinsic value? For Ashtead Group, we've compiled three relevant elements you should consider:

  1. Risks: Case in point, we've spotted 1 warning sign for Ashtead Group you should be aware of.
  2. 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.
  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. 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.

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