Are Investors Undervaluing Parsons Corporation (NYSE:PSN) By 45%?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
April 14, 2022
NYSE:PSN
Source: Shutterstock

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Parsons Corporation (NYSE:PSN) by estimating the company's future cash flows and discounting them to their present value. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model is the tool we will apply to do this. Models like these may appear beyond the comprehension of a lay person, but they're fairly easy to follow.

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.

Check out our latest analysis for Parsons

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) estimate

2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$216.7m US$279.6m US$299.0m US$313.6m US$326.2m US$337.2m US$347.1m US$356.2m US$364.9m US$373.1m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x3 Analyst x3 Analyst x1 Est @ 4.89% Est @ 4% Est @ 3.38% Est @ 2.94% Est @ 2.63% Est @ 2.42% Est @ 2.27%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 6.0% US$205 US$249 US$251 US$249 US$244 US$238 US$232 US$224 US$217 US$209

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$2.3b

We now need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all the future cash flows after this ten year period. 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 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield (1.9%) 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 6.0%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$373m× (1 + 1.9%) ÷ (6.0%– 1.9%) = US$9.4b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$9.4b÷ ( 1 + 6.0%)10= US$5.3b

The total value is the sum of cash flows for the next ten years plus the discounted terminal value, which results in the Total Equity Value, which in this case is US$7.6b. To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$40.0, the company appears quite undervalued at a 45% 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:PSN Discounted Cash Flow April 14th 2022

Important assumptions

The calculation above is very dependent on two assumptions. The first is the discount rate and the other is the 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 Parsons 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 6.0%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.951. 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.

Looking Ahead:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. DCF models are not the be-all and end-all of investment valuation. 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. For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. Why is the intrinsic value higher than the current share price? For Parsons, we've compiled three pertinent items you should further research:

  1. Risks: Take risks, for example - Parsons has 2 warning signs we think you should be aware of.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for PSN'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. 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.

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