Investors Are Undervaluing AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) By 20.23%

I am going to run you through how I calculated the intrinsic value of AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today’s value. I will be using the Discounted Cash Flows (DCF) model. Don’t get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model. Please also note that this article was written in November 2018 so be sure check out the updated calculation by following the link below.

View our latest analysis for AstraZeneca

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. To begin with we have to get estimates of the next five years of cash flows. For this I used the consensus of the analysts covering the stock, as you can see below. I then discount this to its value today and sum up the total to get the present value of these cash flows.

5-year cash flow estimate

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Levered FCF ($, Millions) $4.18k $5.02k $7.69k $10.11k $9.65k
Source Analyst x11 Analyst x10 Analyst x3 Analyst x2 Est @ -4.51%
Present Value Discounted @ 8.28% $3.86k $4.28k $6.06k $7.35k $6.48k

Present Value of 5-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= US$28b

We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after the five years. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of the GDP. In this case I have used the 10-year government bond rate (1.4%). In the same way as with the 5-year ‘growth’ period, we discount this to today’s value at a cost of equity of 8.3%.

Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2022 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$9.6b × (1 + 1.4%) ÷ (8.3% – 1.4%) = US$142b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)5 = US$142b ÷ ( 1 + 8.3%)5 = US$96b

The total value is the sum of cash flows for the next five years and the discounted terminal value, which results in the Total Equity Value, which in this case is US$124b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding, or the equivalent number if this is a depositary receipt or ADR. This results in an intrinsic value of £76.28. Relative to the current share price of £60.85, the stock is about right, perhaps slightly undervalued at a 20% discount to what it is available for right now.

LSE:AZN Intrinsic Value Export November 23rd 18
LSE:AZN Intrinsic Value Export November 23rd 18

Important assumptions

I’d like to 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 my result, have a go at the calculation yourself and play with the assumptions. Because we are looking at AstraZeneca as potential shareholders, the cost of equity is used as the discount rate, rather than the cost of capital (or weighed average cost of capital, WACC) which accounts for debt. In this calculation I’ve used 8.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.800. This is derived from the Bottom-Up Beta method based on comparable companies, with an imposed limit between 0.8 and 2.0, which is a reasonable range for a stable business.

Next Steps:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it shouldn’t be the only metric you look at when researching a company. What is the reason for the share price to differ from the intrinsic value? For AZN, I’ve put together three pertinent aspects you should further research:

  1. Financial Health: Does AZN have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
  2. Future Earnings: How does AZN’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: Are there other high quality stocks you could be holding instead of AZN? 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 does a DCF calculation for every GB stock every 6 hours, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.