Are Investors Undervaluing Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) By 34%?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 27, 2021
NYSE:CAT
Source: Shutterstock

How far off is Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) 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 their present value. We will use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model on this occasion. There's really not all that much to it, even though it might appear quite complex.

We would caution that there are many ways of valuing a company and, like the DCF, each technique has advantages and disadvantages in certain scenarios. For those who are keen learners of equity analysis, the Simply Wall St analysis model here may be something of interest to you.

See our latest analysis for Caterpillar

What's the estimated valuation?

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 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 discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today's dollars:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$6.65b US$7.46b US$8.25b US$8.83b US$9.31b US$9.72b US$10.1b US$10.4b US$10.7b US$11.0b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x12 Analyst x9 Analyst x1 Est @ 7.02% Est @ 5.51% Est @ 4.44% Est @ 3.7% Est @ 3.18% Est @ 2.81% Est @ 2.56%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 7.3% US$6.2k US$6.5k US$6.7k US$6.6k US$6.5k US$6.4k US$6.1k US$5.9k US$5.7k US$5.4k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$62b

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the initial 10-year period, we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all future cash flows beyond the first stage. 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 2.0%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 7.3%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$11b× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (7.3%– 2.0%) = US$208b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$208b÷ ( 1 + 7.3%)10= US$102b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is US$164b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$199, the company appears quite undervalued at a 34% 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.

dcf
NYSE:CAT Discounted Cash Flow November 28th 2021

Important assumptions

Now 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 Caterpillar 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 7.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.230. 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:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it shouldn't be the only metric you look at when researching a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. For example, changes in the company's cost of equity or the risk free rate can significantly impact the valuation. Why is the intrinsic value higher than the current share price? For Caterpillar, we've put together three essential elements you should explore:

  1. Risks: For example, we've discovered 2 warning signs for Caterpillar that you should be aware of before investing here.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for CAT's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
  3. Other High Quality Alternatives: Do you like a good all-rounder? 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 American stock every day, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any other stock just search here.

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