Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Align Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALGN) as an investment opportunity by taking the forecast future cash flows of the company and discounting them back to today's value. One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model. 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.
Crunching the numbers
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 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
|Levered FCF ($, Millions)||US$968.9m||US$1.28b||US$1.37b||US$1.65b||US$1.84b||US$2.01b||US$2.14b||US$2.26b||US$2.36b||US$2.45b|
|Growth Rate Estimate Source||Analyst x6||Analyst x5||Analyst x3||Analyst x2||Est @ 11.92%||Est @ 8.94%||Est @ 6.86%||Est @ 5.4%||Est @ 4.37%||Est @ 3.66%|
|Present Value ($, Millions) Discounted @ 6.1%||US$913||US$1.1k||US$1.1k||US$1.3k||US$1.4k||US$1.4k||US$1.4k||US$1.4k||US$1.4k||US$1.3k|
("Est" = FCF growth rate estimated by Simply Wall St)
Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$13b
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 (2.0%) 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 6.1%.
Terminal Value (TV)= FCF2031 × (1 + g) ÷ (r – g) = US$2.4b× (1 + 2.0%) ÷ (6.1%– 2.0%) = US$60b
Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV)= TV / (1 + r)10= US$60b÷ ( 1 + 6.1%)10= US$33b
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$46b. 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$722, the company appears slightly overvalued at the time of writing. The assumptions in any calculation have a big impact on the valuation, so it is better to view this as a rough estimate, not precise down to the last cent.
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 Align Technology 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 6.1%, which is based on a levered beta of 0.881. 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.
Whilst important, the DCF calculation 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. Can we work out why the company is trading at a premium to intrinsic value? For Align Technology, we've put together three further items you should explore:
- Risks: Be aware that Align Technology is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...
- Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market's sentiment for ALGN's future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
- Other Solid Businesses: Low debt, high returns on equity and good past performance are fundamental to a strong business. Why not explore our interactive list of stocks with solid business fundamentals to see if there are other companies you may not have considered!
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.
If you decide to trade Align Technology, use the lowest-cost* platform that is rated #1 Overall by Barron’s, Interactive Brokers. Trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on 135 markets, all from a single integrated account. Promoted
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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.