Does This Valuation Of PetroChina Company Limited (HKG:857) Imply Investors Are Overpaying?

Today we’ll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of PetroChina Company Limited (HKG:857) as an investment opportunity by estimating the company’s future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. This is done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Don’t get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.

Remember though, that there are many ways to estimate a company’s value, and a DCF is just one method. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

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View our latest analysis for PetroChina

Step by step through 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. 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 need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) estimate

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Levered FCF (CN¥, Millions) CN¥27.27k CN¥60.28k CN¥38.50k CN¥39.47k CN¥40.40k CN¥41.31k CN¥42.21k CN¥43.11k CN¥44.01k CN¥44.92k
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x4 Analyst x5 Analyst x3 Analyst x1 Est @ 2.36% Est @ 2.25% Est @ 2.18% Est @ 2.12% Est @ 2.09% Est @ 2.06%
Present Value (CN¥, Millions) Discounted @ 8.95% CN¥25.03k CN¥50.78k CN¥29.76k CN¥28.01k CN¥26.32k CN¥24.70k CN¥23.16k CN¥21.71k CN¥20.34k CN¥19.05k

Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= CN¥268.86b

“Est” = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St

The second stage is also known as Terminal Value, this is the business’s cash flow after the first stage. The Gordon Growth formula is used to calculate Terminal Value at a future annual growth rate equal to the 10-year government bond rate of 2%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today’s value at a cost of equity of 9%.

Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CN¥45b × (1 + 2%) ÷ (9% – 2%) = CN¥659b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)10 = CN¥CN¥659b ÷ ( 1 + 9%)10 = CN¥279.58b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is CN¥548.43b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. This results in an intrinsic value estimate in the company’s reported currency of CN¥3. However, 857’s primary listing is in China, and 1 share of 857 in CNY represents 1.137 ( CNY/ HKD) share of NYSE:PTR, so the intrinsic value per share in HKD is HK$3.41. Relative to the current share price of HK$4.58, the company appears potentially overvalued at the time of writing. 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.

SEHK:857 Intrinsic value, May 23rd 2019
SEHK:857 Intrinsic value, May 23rd 2019

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 PetroChina 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%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.166. 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.

Next Steps:

Whilst important, DCF calculation shouldn’t be the only metric you look at when researching a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Rather it should be seen as a guide to “what assumptions need to be true for this stock to be under/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 to differ from the intrinsic value? For PetroChina, I’ve compiled three important aspects you should further examine:

  1. Financial Health: Does 857 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 857’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 857? 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 HK stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.