Stock Analysis

An Intrinsic Calculation For Robert Walters plc (LON:RWA) Suggests It's 27% Undervalued

How far off is Robert Walters plc (LON:RWA) 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 today's value. We will take advantage of the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model for this purpose. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.

Companies can be valued in a lot of ways, so we would point out that a DCF is not perfect for every situation. If you still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

Check out our latest analysis for Robert Walters

The calculation

We're using the 2-stage growth model, which simply means we take in account two stages of company's growth. In the initial period the company may have a higher growth rate and the second stage is usually assumed to have a stable growth rate. 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 need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 Levered FCF (£, Millions) UK£27.5m UK£41.1m UK£39.3m UK£38.2m UK£37.6m UK£37.3m UK£37.2m UK£37.2m UK£37.3m UK£37.5m Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x2 Analyst x3 Est @ -4.27% Est @ -2.72% Est @ -1.63% Est @ -0.87% Est @ -0.34% Est @ 0.03% Est @ 0.29% Est @ 0.47% Present Value (£, Millions) Discounted @ 5.6% UK£26.0 UK£36.9 UK£33.4 UK£30.8 UK£28.7 UK£27.0 UK£25.5 UK£24.1 UK£22.9 UK£21.8

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = UK£277m

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 5.6%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = UK£37m× (1 + 0.9%) ÷ (5.6%– 0.9%) = UK£812m

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= UK£812m÷ ( 1 + 5.6%)10= UK£473m

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 UK£750m. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of UK£7.6, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 27% 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 assumptions

Now 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 Robert Walters 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 5.6%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.952. 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.

Looking Ahead:

Whilst important, the DCF calculation ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. 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. What is the reason for the share price sitting below the intrinsic value? For Robert Walters, we've compiled three relevant elements you should look at:

1. Risks: Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Robert Walters , and understanding this should be part of your investment process.
2. Future Earnings: How does RWA'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. 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.

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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.

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About LSE:RWA

Robert Walters

Provides professional recruitment consultancy services worldwide.

Excellent balance sheet, good value and pays a dividend.