Stock Analysis

Are Investors Undervaluing Patterson-UTI Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ:PTEN) By 27%?

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NasdaqGS:PTEN
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Does the October share price for Patterson-UTI Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ:PTEN) reflect what it's really worth? Today, we will estimate the stock's intrinsic value 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. 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.

See our latest analysis for Patterson-UTI Energy

The model

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 need to discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:

10-year free cash flow (FCF) forecast

2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
Levered FCF ($, Millions) US$146.3m US$287.7m US$267.5m US$252.0m US$243.8m US$239.7m US$238.2m US$238.6m US$240.3m US$242.9m
Growth Rate Estimate Source Analyst x4 Analyst x3 Analyst x2 Analyst x2 Est @ -3.26% Est @ -1.69% Est @ -0.6% Est @ 0.17% Est @ 0.71% Est @ 1.08%
Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 11% US$132 US$235 US$197 US$168 US$147 US$130 US$117 US$106 US$96.1 US$87.7

("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$1.4b

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 2.0%. We discount the terminal cash flows to today's value at a cost of equity of 11%.

Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$243m× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (11%– 2.0%) = US$2.8b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$2.8b÷ ( 1 + 11%)10= US$1.0b

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$2.4b. The last step is to then divide the equity value by the number of shares outstanding. Compared to the current share price of US$9.4, the company appears a touch undervalued at a 27% 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
NasdaqGS:PTEN Discounted Cash Flow October 2nd 2021

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 Patterson-UTI Energy 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 11%, which is based on a levered beta of 2.000. 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, the DCF calculation ideally won't be the sole piece of analysis you scrutinize for a company. The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool. Preferably you'd apply different cases and assumptions and see how they would impact the company's valuation. 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 sitting below the intrinsic value? For Patterson-UTI Energy, we've put together three relevant items you should further research:

  1. Risks: For instance, we've identified 2 warning signs for Patterson-UTI Energy that you should be aware of.
  2. Future Earnings: How does PTEN'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. 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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