Stock Analysis

A Look At The Fair Value Of Federal Signal Corporation (NYSE:FSS)

NYSE:FSS
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Key Insights

  • Using the 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity, Federal Signal fair value estimate is US$68.25
  • With US$56.30 share price, Federal Signal appears to be trading close to its estimated fair value
  • Our fair value estimate is 11% lower than Federal Signal's analyst price target of US$61.00

How far off is Federal Signal Corporation (NYSE:FSS) 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 forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. This will be done using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. Before you think you won't be able to understand it, just read on! It's actually much less complex than you'd imagine.

We generally believe that a company's value is the present value of all of the cash it will generate in the future. However, a DCF is just one valuation metric among many, and it is not without flaws. If you still have some burning questions about this type of valuation, take a look at the Simply Wall St analysis model.

View our latest analysis for Federal Signal

The Calculation

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

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$138.3m US$183.2m US$235.6m US$255.9m US$277.4m US$293.5m US$307.3m US$319.3m US$330.0m US$339.8m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x2 Analyst x2 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 5.82% Est @ 4.69% Est @ 3.91% Est @ 3.36% Est @ 2.97%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.4% US$128 US$156 US$185 US$186 US$186 US$181 US$175 US$168 US$160 US$152

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$1.7b

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 2.1%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 8.4%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2032 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$340m× (1 + 2.1%) ÷ (8.4%– 2.1%) = US$5.5b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$5.5b÷ ( 1 + 8.4%)10= US$2.5b

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$4.1b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$56.3, the company appears about fair value at a 18% discount to where the stock price trades currently. Valuations are imprecise instruments though, rather like a telescope - move a few degrees and end up in a different galaxy. Do keep this in mind.

dcf
NYSE:FSS Discounted Cash Flow March 6th 2023

The Assumptions

Now 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 Federal Signal 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 8.4%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.059. 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.

SWOT Analysis for Federal Signal

Strength
  • Earnings growth over the past year exceeded the industry.
  • Debt is well covered by earnings.
Weakness
  • Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Machinery market.
Opportunity
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow faster than the American market.
  • Current share price is below our estimate of fair value.
Threat
  • Debt is not well covered by operating cash flow.
  • Revenue is forecast to grow slower than 20% per year.

Looking Ahead:

Valuation is only one side of the coin in terms of building your investment thesis, and it shouldn't be the only metric you look at when researching a company. It's not possible to obtain a foolproof valuation with a DCF model. 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. 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. For Federal Signal, we've compiled three essential aspects you should look at:

  1. Financial Health: Does FSS 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 FSS'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: 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. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the NYSE every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks just search here.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Federal Signal is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.