An Intrinsic Calculation For CNOOC Limited (HKG:883) Suggests It’s 30% Undervalued

Does the May share price for CNOOC Limited (HKG:883) reflect what it’s really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock’s intrinsic value by projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today’s value. I will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. 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 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.

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

See our latest analysis for CNOOC

Crunching the numbers

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 begin with, we have to get estimates of 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.

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) forecast

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
Levered FCF (CN¥, Millions) CN¥37.67k CN¥44.13k CN¥47.64k CN¥53.51k CN¥56.85k CN¥59.60k CN¥61.98k CN¥64.08k CN¥65.99k CN¥67.76k
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x10 Analyst x11 Analyst x8 Analyst x3 Analyst x3 Est @ 4.84% Est @ 3.99% Est @ 3.39% Est @ 2.98% Est @ 2.68%
Present Value (CN¥, Millions) Discounted @ 9.07% CN¥34.54k CN¥37.10k CN¥36.71k CN¥37.81k CN¥36.83k CN¥35.40k CN¥33.76k CN¥32.00k CN¥30.21k CN¥28.44k

Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF)= CN¥342.81b

“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. For a number of reasons a very conservative growth rate is used that cannot exceed that of a country’s GDP growth. In this case we have used the 10-year government bond rate (2%) to estimate future growth. In the same way as with the 10-year ‘growth’ period, we discount future cash flows to today’s value, using a cost of equity of 9.1%.

Terminal Value (TV) = FCF2029 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = CN¥68b × (1 + 2%) ÷ (9.1% – 2%) = CN¥978b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = TV / (1 + r)10 = CN¥CN¥978b ÷ ( 1 + 9.1%)10 = CN¥410.56b

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¥753.37b. 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¥16.87. However, 883’s primary listing is in Hong Kong, and 1 share of 883 in CNY represents 1.136 ( CNY/ HKD) share of NYSE:CEO, so the intrinsic value per share in HKD is HK$19.16. Compared to the current share price of HK$13.38, 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.

SEHK:883 Intrinsic value, May 22nd 2019
SEHK:883 Intrinsic value, May 22nd 2019

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. 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 CNOOC 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 9.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.063. 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 CNOOC, There are three relevant aspects you should further research:

  1. Financial Health: Does 883 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 883’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 883? 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.