Stock Analysis

Is McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) Worth US$287 Based On Its Intrinsic Value?

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NYSE:MCD
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Key Insights

  • Using the 2 Stage Free Cash Flow to Equity, McDonald's fair value estimate is US$232
  • McDonald's' US$287 share price signals that it might be 24% overvalued
  • Our fair value estimate is 26% lower than McDonald's' analyst price target of US$312

Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) by taking the expected future cash flows and discounting them to today's value. The Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model is the tool we will apply to do this. Don't get put off by the jargon, the math behind it is actually quite straightforward.

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. Anyone interested in learning a bit more about intrinsic value should have a read of the Simply Wall St analysis model.

Check out our latest analysis for McDonald's

The Calculation

We are going to use a two-stage DCF model, which, as the name states, takes into account two stages of growth. The first stage is generally a higher growth period which levels off heading towards the terminal value, captured in the second 'steady growth' period. 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 discount the value of these future cash flows to their estimated value in today's dollars:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032 2033
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$8.72b US$9.68b US$9.79b US$10.4b US$10.9b US$11.3b US$11.7b US$12.1b US$12.4b US$12.7b
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x8 Analyst x3 Analyst x1 Analyst x1 Est @ 4.51% Est @ 3.82% Est @ 3.34% Est @ 3.00% Est @ 2.77% Est @ 2.60%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 8.3% US$8.1k US$8.3k US$7.7k US$7.6k US$7.3k US$7.0k US$6.7k US$6.4k US$6.1k US$5.8k

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$71b

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 5-year average of the 10-year government bond yield (2.2%) 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 8.3%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2033 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$13b× (1 + 2.2%) ÷ (8.3%– 2.2%) = US$215b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$215b÷ ( 1 + 8.3%)10= US$97b

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$168b. In the final step we divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Relative to the current share price of US$287, the company appears slightly overvalued at the time of writing. Remember though, that this is just an approximate valuation, and like any complex formula - garbage in, garbage out.

dcf
NYSE:MCD Discounted Cash Flow December 8th 2023

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 McDonald's 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 8.3%, which is based on a levered beta of 1.208. 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 McDonald's

Strength
  • Earnings growth over the past year exceeded the industry.
  • Debt is well covered by earnings and cashflows.
  • Dividends are covered by earnings and cash flows.
Weakness
  • Dividend is low compared to the top 25% of dividend payers in the Hospitality market.
Opportunity
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow for the next 3 years.
  • Good value based on P/E ratio compared to estimated Fair P/E ratio.
Threat
  • Total liabilities exceed total assets, which raises the risk of financial distress.
  • Annual earnings are forecast to grow slower than the American market.

Next Steps:

Although the valuation of a company is important, it is only one of many factors that you need to assess for 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?" For instance, if the terminal value growth rate is adjusted slightly, it can dramatically alter the overall result. Why is the intrinsic value lower than the current share price? For McDonald's, we've compiled three additional items you should look at:

  1. Risks: We feel that you should assess the 2 warning signs for McDonald's we've flagged before making an investment in the company.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for MCD'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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