Stock Analysis

Is Associated British Foods plc (LON:ABF) Trading At A 30% Discount?

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LSE:ABF
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In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Associated British Foods plc (LON:ABF) by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. We will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model on this occasion. Models like these may appear beyond the comprehension of a lay person, but they're fairly easy to follow.

Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company's value, and a DCF is just one method. 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.

View our latest analysis for Associated British Foods

What's the estimated valuation?

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. 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, and so the sum of these future cash flows is then discounted to today's value:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Levered FCF (£, Millions) UK£765.2m UK£1.03b UK£1.05b UK£1.17b UK£1.26b UK£1.34b UK£1.40b UK£1.44b UK£1.48b UK£1.52b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x10 Analyst x9 Analyst x5 Analyst x1 Est @ 7.71% Est @ 5.76% Est @ 4.4% Est @ 3.45% Est @ 2.78% Est @ 2.31%
Present Value (£, Millions) Discounted @ 6.8% UK£717 UK£906 UK£861 UK£904 UK£912 UK£903 UK£884 UK£856 UK£824 UK£790

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = UK£8.6b

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 6.8%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2030 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = UK£1.5b× (1 + 1.2%) ÷ (6.8%– 1.2%) = UK£28b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= UK£28b÷ ( 1 + 6.8%)10= UK£14b

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£23b. 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£20.4, the company appears quite good value at a 30% 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.

dcf
LSE:ABF Discounted Cash Flow November 18th 2020

Important 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. 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 Associated British Foods 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 6.8%, 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.

Moving On:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it is only one of many factors that you need to assess for a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. 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. What is the reason for the share price sitting below the intrinsic value? For Associated British Foods, we've compiled three essential elements you should further research:

  1. Risks: Take risks, for example - Associated British Foods has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.
  2. Future Earnings: How does ABF'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.

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